After the West Bengal government wrote to the Centre to remove six districts from its list of ten Red Zones, the state is likely to treat all the aforementioned areas as Orange Zones while following the revised guidelines issues by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday. Upon extending the nationwide lockdown by a further two weeks beyond May 4, the ministry categorised all districts in three zones - Red, Orange and Green.
Terming the Centre's latest list of Red Zones in Bengal 'erroneous assessment', the state health department decided to consider six districts as Orange Zones - South-24 Paraganas, West Midnapore, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong and Malda.
According to our assessment (following the strict guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation) the six districts fall under the Orange Zone category, a state secretariat source said.
"The districts administration will be asked to follow the revised guidelines of MHA which was mentioned in the Orange Zone category and not in the red zone category," the source added.
As per the MHA, districts that have neither been classified as Red Zone nor Green Zone, shall be considered as Orange Zones, while the classification of districts as Red Zones will take into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts.
The ministry also issued a list of activities to be permitted in all the three zones. In addition to the activities permitted in the Red Zones, taxis and cab aggregators will be allowed to ply with 1 driver and two passengers only in the Orange Zones.
Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will also be allowed, but for permitted activities only. Four wheeler vehicles will have maximum two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.
These relaxations are likely to be given by the West Bengal government in the six districts it considers as Orange Zones but are mentioned in the Centre's list Red Zones.
Speaking to the CNN-News18, Santanu Sen, a doctor and Rajya Sabha member from TMC, said, "Our state should follow the guidelines as per their own assessment on red, orange and green zones. The Centre is issuing guidelines as per their wish. They are not consulting anything with the state government. Can they (Central government) point out a single flaw in our system while declaring red, orange and green zones in Bengal?"
Sen, who is also a former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said that a few were jealous with the state's 'remarkable' performance in dealing with the novel coronavirus.
"They are finding it difficult to accept that we are having less number of cases as compare to other states," he said.
The Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Vivek Kumar earlier on Friday also wrote a letter to Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and requested her to consider the state's demand of removing the six districts from the 'Red Zones' category.