Expressing concern over the "ongoing agitation over ration supply" and the COVID-19 situation in Bengal, the BJP state unit on Monday wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying people could have benefited from central schemes, had she not rejected them. In his letter to Banerjee, which was released to the press, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the government was depriving people of the benefits of two central projects PM Kisan and Ayushman Bharat Yojana -- "owing to narrow political considerations".
"It is a matter of concern that people are agitating in East Midnapore, Murshidabad and North 24 Parganas over poor quality of grains and inadequate supply. Over 70 lakh farmers would get help from the (Centre's) allocation of Rs 4,200 crore under the PM-Kisan scheme, if the state opts for it.
"At the same time, Rs 2,714 crore allotted as income support under Krishak Bandhu scheme for the year 2020-21 should also be utilised," the letter said. Ghosh urged the state government to provide a financial aid of Rs 1,000 to every poor household and make arrangements for doorstep delivery of ration. He demanded free COVID-19 treatment for the poor.
The state can provide free treatment to the underprivileged without burdening its exchequer if it signs up for the Centre's Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Ghosh noted. The BJP MP said the government should procure 100 per cent grains from the farmers and provide them an incentive over and above the minimum support price for wheat and rice.
Ghosh, during the press meet, pointed out that 12 hospitals in the state have either been closed partially or completely as frontline health workers there were placed under quarantine. "From medical practitioners to police, many have been put in isolation. The healthcare system is under serious stress. What is the state doing? They are only delaying tests. The ICMR and various other agencies have voiced concern over the low testing rate in the state," he said.
Bengal has reported an average of 232.25 tests per million, far behind what the ratio is in most other states. "Double the honorarium and salaries given to healthcare workers, including nurses and Asha personnel, for the next six months and provide them with adequate safety equipment," the state BJP president said in the letter. Iterating that the state government is hiding actual figures of COVID-19 death, Ghosh said "this is only worsening the situation".
The BJP MP further said that the government should take measures to ensure that Bengal workers who have migrated to other states for work get to avail free of cost healthcare. He suggested that the government make arrangements to bring back people stuck outside state at the earliest, and necessary precautions be taken to avoid contamination.
The BJP leader also demanded that the audit committee formed to certify the COVID-19 deaths be disbanded, alleging it was constituted to conceal the actual toll. "We have requested the Union Health Ministry to send another central team to assess the situation. We hope that the state, in the interest of the people of Bengal, shall cooperate with the team," Ghosh said.