Let Centre distribute vaccines, says Naveen Patnaik

In letter to his counterparts, the Odisha Chief Minister calls for a consensus on universal vaccination programme; Mamata Banerjee agrees.

Updated - November 18, 2021 03:28 pm IST

Published - June 02, 2021 04:29 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR/ KOLKATA

Naveen Patnaik.

Naveen Patnaik.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has called for a consensus among all States on universal vaccination programme.

In a letter to all Chief Ministers , and personal calls to a few of them, he expressed grave concern at the prevailing COVID-19 situation and suggested that the Centre should procure vaccines and distribute them.

“The only way to protect our people against future waves and provide them with a hope of survival is vaccination. Countries which have focused on vaccination programme have seen remarkable improvement in their COVID-19 situation. We have to provide this healing touch to our people,” he said. 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, too, said on Wednesday, “The Central government must procure and make vaccines for COVID-19 available free of cost to all the States.” 

Ms. Banerjee said that Mr. Patnaik had called her on Tuesday on the subject of vaccination. “Naveen- ji  called me yesterday, I fully support his views,” the CM said, adding that the Chief Minister of Kerala had also written to the Centre on the issue.


She said there were about 140 crore people in India and unless the Centre provided vaccines, it was going to take a lot of time to vaccinate the population. 

Many States floated global tenders for vaccine procurement, Mr. Patnaik’s letter said, adding, “However, it is quite clear that the global vaccine manufacturers are looking forward to the Union government for the clearances and assurances. They are unwilling to get into supply contracts with the State governments, while the domestic vaccine manufacturers are having supply constraints and are not able to commit required supplies.” 

“After the second wave, people are very scared about future waves and variants. Every citizen in India has been affected by this pandemic in one way or the other. It could be losing a loved one or losing a job or loss in business or just the mental trauma because of the present situation. None has been spared by this pandemic,” said the five-time Chief Minister of Odisha. 

After the Union government announced the Phase-3 of the vaccine policy, allowing vaccination of those above 18 years and procurement by State governments and the private sector, there has been great demand for vaccines, Mr. Patnaik said. 

No State was safe unless all the States adopted vaccination as a top priority and executed it on war-footing. “This cannot be a battle among the States to procure vaccines,” he wrote.

Under the circumstances, he said, “the best option available is for the Government of India to centrally procure the vaccines and distribute among the States so that our citizens are vaccinated at the earliest”.

Mr. Patnaik also suggested decentralisation of the vaccination programme. “States should be allowed the flexibility to determine their own mechanism to ensure universal vaccination,” he said. Internet was inaccessible in many hilly areas and therefore online registration had to be flexible. Some vulnerable tribes could be given vaccines on priority.

After the Independent struggle, this was perhaps the greatest challenge the nation had faced, he said. “I am sure that we will set aside whatever differences we have, either political or otherwise, and come together in the true spirit of cooperative federalism for saving precious lives and hard-earned livelihoods,” he wrote.

Ms. Banerjee pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had promised free vaccination to the people of Bihar during the Assembly polls but had not kept the promise.

“It is all a hoax. Temporary solution is not solution, it is pollution. India has a huge population. They are not sending vaccines to State governments and saying that, by December, India will be vaccinated. They don’t even send vaccines to States,” Ms. Banerjee said. 

“We have 10 crore people in the State, we are trying to procure vaccines on our own but still we have reached only 1.4 crore [people],” Ms. Banerjee said.

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