Other States

Centre’s negligence has led to COVID-19 crisis, says Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday addressed a public meeting virtually in Paschim Bardhaman and said that it was because of the “negligence of the Centre” that the COVID-19 situation in the country had assumed alarming proportions. She also alleged that oxygen meant for health facilities in West Bengal was being diverted to other States.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson said that no experts had been consulted; oxygen and medicines had not been stocked for the second wave of COVID-19; and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said on March 7 that the coronavirus was on its way out.

“The crisis has taken on such a scale because of the negligence of the Centre. The BJP wanted to win Bengal at any cost. From all across the country they [BJP leaders] came to West Bengal, putting the entire country and West Bengal in such a critical situation. This is so unfortunate,” she said.

This is the first virtual meeting by the Chief Minister, who is currently stationed at Durgapur in Paschim Bardhaman, the region that will go to polls in the seventh phase of polling on April 26. The Election Commission of India (EC) late on Thursday evening banned public meetings with more than 500 people, and road shows and bike rallies, due to the spike in COVID-19 infections.

Ms. Banerjee also said that the EC had issued the ban “at the last moment”, only after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cancelled his public meetings in West Bengal. “The EC should have clubbed the remaining phases [of the Bengal Assembly polls] together,” Ms. Banerjee reiterated.

While the Chief Minister maintained that West Bengal had not been invited for the meeting on COVID-19 chaired by the Prime Minister, she also alleged that oxygen supply meant for West Bengal had been diverted to Uttar Pradesh.

“There is no oxygen available in the market. SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) was meeting our oxygen demands for West Bengal, but that oxygen has been diverted to Uttar Pradesh,” Ms. Banerjee said. She said that all industrial units had been asked to divert their supply for health care.

Ms. Banerjee said that she had written a letter to the Prime Minister against the diversion of oxygen from West Bengal. “If the quota of one State is diverted to other States, then how will the State meet its demands?” she asked.

A statement issued by the West Bengal government later in the day said that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare had on April 21 allotted 200 MT of oxygen from different plants located in West Bengal to outside the State.

“According to the current patient load and the rising trend of the infections, it is expected that the consumption level in West Bengal will radically rise to roughly 450 MT per day in the next couple of weeks. Hence, present allocation of Liquid Oxygen to outside West Bengal will jeopardize the medical treatment of Covid patients in the state,” the statement added.

According to the communication, the West Bengal government requested the Government of India on April 22 to “consider the need of the State and not to divert the medical oxygen available in the state to elsewhere”.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 10:32:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/centres-negligence-has-led-to-covid-19-crisis-says-mamata/article34392572.ece

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