Central Team Casts Doubts On West Bengal’s Claims On Surveying Lakhs Of PeopleWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

In a move that is sure to anger Bengal government again, the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) has raised doubts over Bengal’s claims that 50 lakh people have been surveyed for symptoms of Covid-19 infection in the four districts of Kolkata, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore.

The IMCT wrote to Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha stating that the state government needed to be “transparent and consistent” in citing figures. The IMCT said it had found no evidence to back the state’s claim of surveying 50 lakh people.

The state government had also claimed that over six lakh people had been surveyed by 1,500 teams in the containment zones in the four districts: 1.31 lakh in Kolkata, 1.76 lakh in Howrah, 1.77 lakh in North 24 Parganas and 1.5 lakh in East Midnapore, as per state government’s claims.

Apurva Chandra, who heads the IMCT team for South Bengal, wrote to Sinha, “While the state government has claimed a very high level of daily surveillance of individuals in containment zones, no database was shown or results made available. During the stay of the committee itself, over 50 lakh persons would have been surveyed in the four districts. Collating and evaluating a database of this magnitude requires very robust systems to be in place. However, no such evidence was available during our stay or field visits”.

The team also highlighted a glaring discrepancy in the number of Covid cases reported by Bengal in its own medical bulletins and its communication to the Union Government. The state bulletin dated 30 April pegged active Covid cases at 572, 139 as discharged after treatment and the death toll as 33, thus making the total number of Covid-19 cases in the state as 744.

However, Bengal’s principal secretary (health) wrote to the union health & family welfare secretary the same day that the total number of Covid cases in Bengal (active+recovered+dead) was 931. There was a discrepancy of 187 cases.

Chandra, an additional secretary in the Department of Defence Production, has also accused the Bengal government of taking an “antagonistic view” of the IMCT and not supporting the team in the discharge of its duties during its stay in the state.

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