Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Monday, 31 May, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking free COVID vaccines for the 18-44 age group, adding that the state is under immense financial burden and it would require an estimate of Rs 1,100 crore to innoculate the age group.
He wrote, “The financial burden on the state for vaccination of the age cohort of 18-44 years is likely to be more than Rs 1,100 crore, considering 1.57 crore eligible people.”
The Chief Minister highlighted the inconsistency in vaccine prices, saying that it is “pertinent to note that the rates specified by the centre for procurement of vaccines by the state for the age cohort of 18 to 44 years are significantly higher than the rates at which vaccine is being procured by the centre for the beneficiaries in the age cohort of 45 years and above”.
The letter to the PM comes as the state of Jharkhand faces an “abysmal supply of vaccine vis-a-vis the requirement of the state”.
Soren informed the PM that according to the Union policy, the state administration is undertaking all efforts to procure vaccines from manufacturers directly, however, “the supplies against the orders placed continue to remain extremely limited and it ultimately depends on the allocations made by the central government”.
Reminding the PM of other historical immunisation programmes, such as polio, Soren said:
“This is probably the first instance in the history of independent India that states have been mandated to procure vaccines on their own. Such a mandate, under the ongoing challenging and unprecedented circumstances... stands against the principle of co-operative federalism.”Hemant Soren, in his letter to PM
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday rapped the Centre for its policy of dual pricing for COVID-19 vaccination and questioned the rationale behind letting states and even civic bodies compete with each other for procuring vaccines from private manufactures via global tenders.
Justices DY Chandrachud observed, “Article 1 of the Constitution says that India, that is Bharat is a Union of States. When the Constitution says that, then we follow the federal rule. Then Government of India has to procure the vaccines and distribute them. Individual states cannot be left in the lurch,” LiveLaw reported.