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Tomorrow’s total lockdown withdrawn

Mamata cites travel troubles for Sunday’s NEET examinees to revoke decision
Mamata Banerjee

Pranesh Sarkar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 11.09.20, 01:17 AM

Bengal government has withdrawn the complete lockdown on September 12 in view of travel difficulties likely to be faced by students who will appear for NEET examination on Sunday.

There is no change in the total lockdown announced for Friday and government sources said it might be the last, at least for the time being.

“GoWB had initially announced a statewide lockdown on September 11 & 12th. Considering the NEET 2020 examination scheduled on 13th, we have received numerous requests from the student community on lifting lockdown norms on 12th, helping ease their travel to examination centres,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted on Thursday.

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Sources at Nabanna said the government was forced to reconsider the decision after hundreds of requests to withdraw the lockdown a day ahead of the NEET exam on Sunday had flooded the state secretariat over the past few days.

“Nearly 37,000 candidates would appear in the exam and majority of them have to travel long distances to reach exam centres set up in a handful of cities and major towns across the state. As many want to reach the towns and cities a day ahead of the exam, the government decided to withdraw the complete lockdown scheduled for Saturday,” said a senior government official.

For example, the official said, some students from Murshidabad would have to travel to Kharagpur to write the test. “It is not possible for the examinees to travel such a long way on the day of the exam. Withdrawal of the complete lockdown on September 12 would help the students,” the official added.

Sources in the state administration said Friday’s lockdown was likely to be the last full lockdown day in Bengal — at least for the time being — as the government was not in a mood to declare further lockdown dates in September.

“In the notification for Unlock 4 issued on August 31, the state government had announced three complete lockdown dates — September 7, 11 and 12. The state has already observed a complete lockdown on September 7 and another would be observed tomorrow. The state is not in a mood to announce the complete lockdown on any more days in the remaining half of the month,” a senior state government official said.

The official said, given the present situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government was unlikely to announce any further lockdown dates in October either as it would create trouble for the organisers of Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the state.

“Moreover, further lockdown in the last half of September and October would hit the traders’ community badly. It has also been seen that a day ahead of and the day after a complete lockdown, markets and streets are getting overcrowded throwing social distancing norms out of gear,” said the official.

A top government official said the state was now focusing on panic management as Covid cases were rising steadily in the country. “We have successfully tackled the initial panic by introducing several facilities like Covid Patient Management system and 24X7 helpline and bringing down the death rate to nearly 2 percent,” the bureaucrat said.

Officials have said the state now wants to restore normalcy as much as possible but at the same time it aims to ensure people follow personal hygiene and maintain all safety norms like physical distancing. “This is the only way of tackling the pandemic and at the same time saving the economy of the state,” said an official.



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