MHA tells Ben­gal to open B’desh ac­cess

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - SPOTLIGHT - Neeraj Chauhan and Saub­hadra Chat­terji let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com n

NEWDELHI: The Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day came down hard on the Ma­mata Banerjee gov­ern­ment in West Ben­gal for not al­low­ing move­ment of goods traf­fic through border cross­ings be­tween In­dia and Bangladesh -- a move that it said could jeop­ar­dize In­dia’ s in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments to the neigh­bour­ing coun­try.

In a letter to West Ben­gal chief sec­re­tary Ra­jiva Sinha, Union home sec­re­tary Ajay Bhalla stated that “the uni­lat­eral ac­tion on the part of gov­ern­ment of West Ben­gal to stop the cross land border move­ment of es­sen­tial goods would have larger im­pli­ca­tions for the In­dian gov­ern­ment with re­gard to its legally bind­ing in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments.”

Bhalla told that by do­ing so, West Ben­gal was not just vi­o­lat­ing the min­istry of home af­fairs’ or­ders un­der Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Act but also Ar­ti­cles 253, 256 and 257 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia. Ar­ti­cle 253 of the Con­sti­tu­tion deals with the leg­is­la­tion for giv­ing ef­fect to in­ter­na­tional agree­ments while ar­ti­cles 256 and 257 give pow­ers to the Cen­tre for is­su­ing di­rec­tions to the state.

“It has been re­ported that goods traf­fic through border cross­ings be­tween In­dia and Bangladesh, falling in West Ben­gal, has still not re­sumed. As a re­sult, a large num­ber of trucks car­ry­ing es­sen­tial sup­plies, bound for Bangladesh, are stranded at dif­fer­ent border cross­ing points,” the home sec­re­tary wrote in his letter.

“A num­ber of driv­ers of such ve­hi­cles, while re­turn­ing from Bangladesh, have also not been al­lowed to cross the border, and are stranded in Bangladesh,” Bhalla added. He re­minded the state gov­ern­ment of lock­down mea­sures is­sued on May 1 ac­cord­ing to which no state/ union ter­ri­tory shall stop move­ment of cargo for cross-border land trade un­der treaties with neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. He di­rected the Ben­gal chief sec­re­tary to al­low ac­cess land border trans­porta­tion through all In­doBanglade­sh bor­ders “with­out any fur­ther de­lay” and send the re­port by Wed­nes­day.

The state, how­ever, main­tained that it was fol­low­ing all norms. “We have been ad­her­ing to all norms of lock­down and so­cial dis­tanc­ing. In case of Pe­trapole (a land port at the Bangladesh border) there has been some pub­lic is­sue. We will ad­dress the is­sue in due time af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of all the as­pects in­volved,” said Ala­pan Ban­dopad­hyay, state home sec­re­tary.

The Cen­tre also slammed the state gov­ern­ment for vi­o­lat­ing lock­down in­struc­tions and so­cial dis­tanc­ing norms, based on the find­ings of In­ter-Min­is­te­rial Cen­tral Teams (IMCT), as in­stances of peo­ple openly play­ing cricket or foot­ball, bathing in rivers and over­crowd­ing in bazaars (markets) have come to its no­tice.

The state on Wed­nes­day re­ported 112 new cases tak­ing the tally to over 1450 and four deaths.

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