Pandemic mismanaged, says Opposition

Badly hit: Many lives were lost due to shortage in oxygen during the second wave, the Opposition said. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Opposition on Thursday hit out at the government for alleged lack of data on deaths during the second wave of COVID-19 due to oxygen shortage, lack of clarity on booster dose or vaccine for children and mismanagement during the pandemic.

Accusing the Centre of favouring BJP-ruled States in allocation of vaccines and calling celebrations over the 100-crore vaccination mark as premature, Shiv Sena leader Vinayak Raut, participating in the discussion on COVID-19 in the Lok Sabha, pointed out that the pandemic had highlighted the need for close coordination among the States and the Centre.

“The Prime Minister is responsible for the entire population of the country and allocation during a pandemic should be made on the basis of the population density,” Mr. Raut stated. Describing as “premature” the celebrations over crossing the 100-crore milestone in vaccination, he said that till date two-dose coverage had been poor. “Should we be satisfied with this? We cannot launch premature celebrations for 100-crore doses,” he remarked.

On utilisation of the PM-CARES fund, he refrained from making a direct attack on the Centre. Instead, he targeted contractors tasked with supplying ventilators to hospitals and establishing PSA oxygen plants. “The Centre or the Prime Minister is not to be blamed. It’s the suppliers who provided sub-standard ventilators, which could not be used for the welfare of people.” The Prime Minister had made an announcement of setting up more than 1,500 PSA oxygen plants in hospitals across the country, but in reality less than 400 plants were functional. “But for the rest, only foundation stones were laid and the plants were not operational. Contractors have betrayed the Centre and strict action should be taken against such people,” he observed.

Overcharging by hospitals

Mr. Raut also raised the issue of private hospitals overcharging COVID-19 patients, particularly during the second wave. “In the first wave, private doctors ran away, but in the second wave, they all opened their shops, and depending on insurance coverage, billed poor patients. We have to ensure this doesn’t happen again and we need law barring this kind of thing.”

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and AIMIM leader A. Owaisi questioned the Centre as to when they would be able to provide the eligible adult population with vaccination cover.

Mr. Choudhry said that had the government taken adequate preventive steps before the second wave, many people and families could have been saved.

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi noted that every citizen had felt the impact of COVID-19 in one way or the other in their lives. The Centre was giving the wrong message by implying that the nation had defeated coronavirus.

“This gives a wrong impression to citizens that they can lower their guard. India exported vaccines, and when it should have first covered its population, it was caught unprepared for the pandemic in terms of oxygen and ventilators’ non-availability despite repeated warning by the Opposition. The Centre instead hiked the prices of LPG cylinder and petroleum products amid the ongoing pandemic. The government should have increased the tax on corporate houses instead of the poor when many people have lost the breadearners of their families,’’ he added.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 10:32:14 AM |

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