Reacting to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s allegations of the Maharashtra government’s “inability” to act responsibly amid the pandemic, after the Maharashtra government wrote to them asking for more vaccines, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, on Wednesday, 7 April, said:
“Statement by the health minister of India disturbed, saddened, and disgusted me. While a letter was written to him in good spirit and intent, and in the spirit of cooperation, and in the spirit of feedback...What he responded with wasn’t just political, but sounded like trying to seek brownie points by attacking some states.”
Priyanka Chaturvedi further said that she would expect a scientific response from Dr Vardhan, because he is the health minister of India and not a political spokesperson of a party.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday, 7 April, claimed that the state doesn’t have enough vaccine doses at several vaccination centres, resulting in people being sent back. He added that the state will run out of doses in three days.
However, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had on Wednesday refuted Tope’s statement, saying that such allegations are “utterly baseless”.
What Was Wrong With What Maha Govt Asked For?
The Shiv Sena MP, in a video shared on Twitter, asked what was wrong with the letter the Maharashtra government had written to the Union health minister.
“I believe he was the Union health minister. I did not realise that he continues to hold his position as a spokesperson of a political party more dearly than the responsibility that he has at a time when India is at the grip of a second wave of the pandemic, which has seen lakhs of deaths.”
She also pointed out that the need of the hour is to ensure that the vaccination reaches maximum people.
“So, was it wrong to ask that the young population of India – which the Prime Minister calls the young demographic dividend – to be safeguarded? Shouldn’t that be a basic right, a fundamental right to life?”
Priyanka Chaturvedi in her video also posed the following questions to the Union health minister:
- I would want to know ever since this pandemic started, how many states has he visited out of Delhi?
- Isn’t it a fact that the ministry had gone on record to say that COVID will not impact India? What has it done one year down the line, and where are we right now?
- Isn’t it a fact that they could not gauge a second wave coming, while our CM continued to warn Maharashtra against the second wave?
- Why hasn’t the health ministry till date yet said a word about the political rallies that are happening? Not one single notice has gone out to political leaders or political parties.
- How is it that no questions are asked regarding the transparency of data in BJP-governed states?
- Isn’t it a fact that ultimately it was the PM who had to step in and start conversing with various CMs of various states to ensure that there was a cohesive response to COVID?
She further said:
“In the second wave more of our young population is under attack from COVID. If we tell you that scientific data indicates there is an issue, maybe, you should handle it as a genuine feedback and genuine concerns coming from states.”
What Had Dr Harsh Vardhan Said?
“I have seen statements made by public representatives in Maharashtra about shortage of vaccines. This is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from Maharashtra government’s repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic,” the Union Health Minister had, previously, said in a statement.
The inability of the Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension, he said, adding that spreading panic among the people of the state is only compounding the effect.
“Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis, and state governments are being apprised regularly about it. Allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless.Dr Harsh Vardhan
“Throughout the last year, as the health minister of India, I have been a witness to the misgovernance and utter casual approach of Maharashtra government in battling the virus. The lackadaisical attitude of the state government has singularly bogged down the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus,” he added.
What Had Maharashtra Claimed?
“We do not have enough vaccine doses at various vaccination centres and people have to be sent back due to a shortage of doses. We have demanded from the Centre that people of age group 20-40 years must be vaccinated on priority,” Tope had told news agency ANI, on Wednesday.
He went on to say, “Currently, we have 14 lakh vaccine doses which will get over in 3 days. We’ve asked for 40 lakh more vaccine doses per week.”
Mumbai’s mayor Kishori Pednekar reiterated Tope’s claim, saying, “There is a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses in Mumbai. Yesterday, we had 1,76,000 vaccine doses but in the coming days, we will require more vaccines,” ANI reported.
Further, Maharashtra’s Principal Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas told PTI that, “The Centre is aware of the situation and (we) have also communicated (the same) in writing.”
As per a senior health official, many districts in Maharashtra will run out of their stock in a day or two.
State health minister Tope added that while Centre is supplying them with enough doses, the speed of delivery of vaccines is not satisfactory, and added that Maharashtra has a vaccine wastage rate of 3 percent, which is half of the national average vaccine wastage rate of 6 percent.
Speaking on the the supply of medical oxygen, he said said the state is prepared to close down industries using access oxygen, “12 metric tonnes of oxygen is produced and over 7 tonnes of oxygen is consumed daily. We've demanded that we should be supplied medical oxygen from nearby states. If needed, we'll close down industries that use oxygen but won't let supply of medical oxygen be affected.”
Maharashtra is currently at the peak of a second COVID-19 surge, and is vaccinating about four lakh people per day.
On the new COVID strain, the minister said, “We suspect that there is a new strain that is affecting people in a shorter duration of time. Samples have been sent to National Centre for Disease Control to ascertain this.”
On the new COVID restrictions, Tope said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has appealed for the same, and received ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis’ support. “Nobody should do politics in a pandemic situation,” the minister added.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI)
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