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Bengal Terms Centre's List of Red Zones in State as 'Erroneous', Requests Fresh Categorisation

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

While the state currently has four districts falling under the Red Zone, the central government wants to increase this number to 10.

Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Friday wrote to the Centre to remove six districts from its list of 10 Red Zones in the state. This move came hours after the Centre issued a list of Green, Orange and Red Zones for the whole country after the nationwide lockdown is lifted on May 3.

Terming it an "erroneous assessment", Principal Secretary of the West Bengal Health Department Bibek Kumar requested that South-24 Paraganas, West Midnapore, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong and Malda districts be categorised under Orange Zones instead.

In his letter to Preeti Sudan, Secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Kumar said, "With regards to the presentation made in the cabinet secretary's video conference with the states on April 30, as many as 10 districts of West Bengal were shown in the Red zone. This is an erroneous assessment."

Based on the Centre's current parameters for categorisation of areas in different zones amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the districts in West Bengal falling under the list of Red Zones are Kolkata, Howrah, North 24-Parganas and East Midnapore, he said.

Bengal currently has eight districts in the Green Zone and 11 in the Orange Zone, he added.

The districts in the Green Zone are Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia and Jhargram. Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Murshidabad, Nadia, Darjeeling, East Burdwan, West Burdwan, West Midnapore, Malda, South 24-Parganas and Hooghly fall under the Orange Zone.

Reacting to the state government's request to the Centre, West Bengal Governor Jagadeep Dhankhar said the government is hiding the number of deaths that have occurred in the state, according to news agency ANI.

"According to the state government, 105 people have died due to COVID-19 in West Bengal but the actual figure is more than that. Why do we want to hide the actual number of deaths? People will be more careful when they would realise that the situation is grim?" he asked.

"West Bengal is the only state where the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) faced problems in carrying out their work. When the entire country is fighting against Covid-19 and IMCT team came to assess the situation, we should have received them with red carpet," he added.

Meanwhile, BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha condemned the state government's request on removing six districts from the Red Zone.

"Since the beginning, we are highlighting that the West Bengal government is suppressing COVID-19 facts and the number of deaths in the state. Now we came to know that the state government has raised objections on the Centre’s Red Zone list. This is highly condemnable and I would like to request Mamata Banerjee to stop suppressing the facts and figures related to COVID-19 in the state," he said.