West Bengal coronavirus: Health Secretary Vivek Kumar shunted out as Mamata Banerjee battles storm over COVID-19 handling

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Updated: May 12, 2020 4:55 PM

West Bengal Health Secretary Vivek Kumar's transfer comes amidst a barrage of criticism that the Mamata Banerjee government is facing over the handling of the coronavirus situation.

coronavirus west bengal update West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File PTI Photo

West Bengal Health Secretary Vivek Kumar transferred: West Bengal Principal Health Secretary Vivek Kumar has been transferred and posted as Principal Secretary Environment Department. The reshuffle comes amidst a barrage of criticism that the Mamata Banerjee government is facing over the handling of the coronavirus situation in the state.

“The Governor is pleased to appoint Vivek Kumar, presently posted as Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department as Principal Secretary Environment Department vice Prabhat Kumar Mishra until further order. This is issued in the interest of public service,” the order said.

Narayan Swaroop Nigam will replace Vivek Kumar. Nigam was the Transport Secretary, as per a notification dated May 11.

The 1990 batch IAS officer of West Bengal cadre was posted as principal secretary of Health department in December 2019. Besides, he was asked to continue to be the principal secretary of the information and cultural affairs department as well.

Vivek Kumar’s transfer to the Environment Department as secretary comes days after a row over the state’s COVID-19 data. An Inter Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) visiting the state had earlier pulled up the health department over mismanagement of Covid data. The central team said that several guidelines had been flouted by the state.

The eastern state has so far reported 118 deaths due to coronavirus infection. However, the state has attributed 72 other deaths to comorbidities — cases where COVID-19 was incidental. The state has reported 1,939 COVID-19 cases till Monday and of them, 1,374 are active.

Vivek Kumar is the second top bureaucrat to be transferred within a month. Earlier, food and civil supplies department secretary Manoj Kumar Agarwal was removed following reports of protests over irregular supply of ration though the PDS.

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