Delhi

‘Centre’s intervention in pandemic management created chaos in city’

The ‘intrusion’ by the BJP-led Centre in administrative matters related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic over the last 15 days had “created chaos” in the city, Delhi government sources alleged.

While the Centre’s stepping in did bring “some benefits” in terms of equipment such as oxygen cylinders and rapid testing kits, the “damage done” was “much greater” and the promises made to the Delhi government by the Centre were “never fulfilled,” the sources argued. However, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sources countered the allegations.

The Delhi government sources argued that the Centre promised 2,000 beds out of which 1,000 were to be made available by June 21. “Except 500-odd beds in Jhajjar, which isn’t convenient for Delhi citizens, the rest of the Central government hospitals have not provided beds,” they alleged, adding that they had specifically asked for ICU beds.

Counter claim

MHA sources countered this allegation stating that as on July 1, the total COVID-19 dedicated beds available in Delhi were 15,243, of only 5,747 were occupied. Moreover, the 1,000-bed COVID-19 hospital developed by DRDO would be operational soon and would have 250-odd ICU beds.

Besides, MHA sources stated that 500 beds had been made available in AIIMS, Jhajjar; 350 in ESI hospital, Okhla; 50 in All India Institute of Ayurveda, Sarita Vihar; 150 additional beds in Base Hospital of the Army; 180 isolation beds in the NCC camp near Base hospital and 120 beds at Bawana, Chawla and Jharoda Kalan.

“A total of 2,300 beds with sufficient ICU capacity has been made available. It has been conveyed to the Delhi government by the Health Ministry on June 17,” MHA sources said.

All the same, Delhi government sources alleged that the Centre had promised 8,000 beds in train coaches. However, less than 200 beds, not coaches, has been provided so far. MHA sources retorted that the Railways had made arrangements for 503 coaches with a capacity of around 8,000 beds. “Since only 24 patients have been referred to these coaches, the remaining are waiting to be deployed. Besides, a 10,000-bed COVID care centre has been operationalised in Chhatarpur by the Central Armed Police Forces led by ITBP,” they said.

Delhi government sources also alleged that only 10,000 testing kits were provided, which got over in two days. But MHA sources refuted, saying that RT-PCR testing was ramped up to a level of nearly 10,000 per day after June 14 from 4000-5,000 per day, which was a three-fold increase. “There is no shortage of testing kits and they will be supplied as per need and demand,” they said.

According to Delhi government sources, the Centre’s decision to stop home isolation protocol in Delhi and to “forcibly” ask people to quarantine at COVID-19 care centres was a “horrible move” that disturbed the way home quarantine was being carried out in Delhi.

“It created a lot of chaos after which the Centre reversed it partially, asking people to queue up at CCCs for initial assessment. They then eventually reversed their whole decision. In doing all this, crucial time was lost and thousands of patients were left abandoned,” Delhi government sources alleged.

Delhi government sources also alleged “terror amongst all officers” of various departments at the forefront of tackling the pandemic. Officers were, allegedly, being “openly threatened” that if they didn’t submit reports on time on a daily basis, they will be suspended. There had also been no continuity in the senior-level officers and the nodal officer for COVID-19 mangement has been changed continuously.

MHA sources contended this stating that the capacity of the Delhi government had been “ramped up” with the transfer of officers from outlying segments and the Centre to Delhi. “The officers are of proven capabilities,” they said. The transfer of officers is done at the level of L-G depending on the assessment of the situation, they also said.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 5:27:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/centres-intervention-in-pandemic-management-created-chaos-in-city/article31984681.ece

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