Mamata government discloses letters proving readiness to receive Vande Bharat flights

the asian age  | Rajib Chowdhuri

India, All India

The move came a day after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reacted to Bengal education minister's tweet.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee wearing a mask is seen in her car during the nationwide lockdown. (PTI)

Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government on Friday made public its two recent communications to the Centre as proof that it stands ready to receive flights carrying stranded people and quarantine them for Covid-19.

The move came a day after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)'s said it would arrange such flights to Kolkata if the state government would confirm its willingness to "receive" the air passengers and "quarantine".

The MEA was reacting to a complaint by West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee's allegations that no arrangement of flights has been made by the Centre so far.

The West Bengal home department tweeted, "GOWB (Government of West Bengal) keen to welcome back our people stranded in different countries and has long back communicated its agreement as well as quarantine arrangements details etc to GOI for special international inbound journeys. Letters attached. Bengal awaits flights." It also posted two letters with a list quarantine centres.

In one of the communiques revealed by the state government on May 8, West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha told Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla and foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, "It is said that the standard operating protocol (SOP) and the guidelines may kindly be maintained strictly to avoid any chance of spread of COVID-19, as initial spread of infection has been incidentally through foreign returnees only. The required preparations for institutional quarantine facilities for the foreign returnees have been put in place. It is, however, requested that the details of the passengers reaching Kolkata may kindly be intimated in advance to make other necessary arrangements."

On May 11, Rajiva Sinha informed the Centre of the arrival destination, the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, the contact details of the state government's nodal officer Rajesh Pandey, a list of 12 hotels as 'Pay & Use Quarantine Centres' and three government quarantine centres in a letter to MEA additional secretary (PSP) & Chief Passport Officer Arun K Chatterjee.