Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Centre for stating that no state or Union territory reported Covid-19 deaths due to shortage of oxygen. “It wasn’t just the lack of oxygen but also a severe lack of sensitivity and truth. It was then, still is today,” Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
The Narendra Modi government informed the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament that there was an unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave and it peaked at nearly 9,000 MT, much higher in comparison to 3,095 MT needed in the first wave. The Centre stepped in to facilitate equitable distribution among the states, it said.
Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that “however, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and UTs,”.
“Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union Health Ministry to all states and UTs,” Pawar further said.
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The government was replying to a query if a large number of Covid-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave. Shantanu Sen of the Trinamool Congress said people dying on the streets due to a shortage of oxygen in the 21st Century is a “matter of shame”.
“Lancet, the oldest medical journal, WHO, Supreme Court and several high courts and even countries like Brazil, Canada and the UK have categorically criticised the Covid fighting policy of India. What can be a more shameful incident for us,” he said.
The Shiv Sena also hit out at the government for the “inept handling” of the pandemic. Sena MP Sanjay Raut criticised the government for sending vaccines abroad. However, parties like Biju Janata Dal (BJD) took a more diplomatic approach cautioning against the “politicisation” of the pandemic. “We cannot politicise this handling of the pandemic because no one is wiser. The relationship between the Centre and states and the cooperation is of paramount importance,” Amar Patnaik of BJD said in the Upper House.