Earlier this week, Prime Minister Modi addressed the media and called for ‘Janata Curfew’ asking citizens to stay at home between 7 am to 9 pm to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. While many states have come forward supporting the initiative of the Prime Minister, Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal Government has asked teachers to come to school in order to distribute mid-day meals to students from Monday.
While all the schools across the state of West Bengal have been shut till the 15th of April, the government is making arrangements to deliver mid-day meals to the students at their doorstep from Monday onwards. To make necessary preparation for the same, the government notified all schools and madrassas to keep themselves open on Saturday and Sunday. The district inspectors notified all its teachers to be present at the school on Sunday to ensure the smooth functioning of the process.
Each student availing the mid-day meals will be provided with 2 kilograms of rice and potatoes per month which will be handed over to the guardians. The local authorities in charge of it should buy the potatoes from the local market at a price of Rs. 18 per kilogram.
The controversy around the Move
However, the decision has sparked controversy as the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the decision of the West Bengal government was a deliberate attempt to disobey the orders of the Prime Minister and therefore sabotage the ‘Janata Curfew’. General Secretary of BJP Bengal also went onto say that Mamata Banerjee is risking the lives of thousands.
Responding to the allegations made by the BJP, the ruling Trinamool Congress Party denied any sort of political agenda behind the decision. Reiterating the Prime Minister’s speech, Trinamool Congress Party spokesperson, Snehashis Chakraborty said that the mid-day meal is a part of the essential services that the Prime Minister never asked to be stopped.
Few teachers have also complained of commuting problems as the local train service in the city has been suspended to contain the COVID-19 spread. As of 22nd March 2020, West Bengal has recorded 4 positive cases of the virus.