Centre directs Bengal govt to resume essential goods transportation through Indo-Bangladesh border
New Delhi/Kolkata/IBNS: Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written to West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, directing him to immediately allow transportation of essential goods through Indo-Bangladesh borders, which has not been resumed by the state yet even after Ministry of Home Affair (MHA)'s Apr 24 order, officials said on Wednesday.
In the letter to Bengal CS, Union HS Ajay Bhalla wrote, "It has been reported that goods traffic through border crossings between India and Bangladesh, falling in the State of West Bengal, has still not resumed, and as a result, a large number of trucks carrying essential supplies, bound for Bangladesh, are stranded at different border crossing points."
"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 wrote.
"I would like to point out that it has been clearly spelt out that no State/UT shall stop movement of cargo for cross-border land trade under treaties with neighbouring countries," he added.
The Union Home Secretary also said that such action by West Bengal was a violation of the MHA's order.
"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," Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote.
"This act of the State Government of West Bengal, amounts to violation of the orders issued by MHA under Disaster Management Act, 2005 as well as Articles 253, 256 and 257 of the Constitution of India," Bhalla noted.
In the letter to CS Rajiva Sinha on May 5 (Tuesday), Bhalla also directed the state chief secretary to send a compliance report on opening of cross land borders without any further delay.
Meanwhile, when West Bengal Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay was asked about the letter, he said, "If a senior functionary of the Centre sends a letter privately to a senior functionary of our state, it may not constitute the subject matter of a press conference."
"What I can say is that we have been adhering to all norms of lockdown and social distancing in case of Petrapole," Bandyopadhyay said.
Earlier on Apr 24, in a letter to West Bengal government, the MHA had directed the state to allow cross land border transportation of essential goods through all Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Bangladesh borders.