Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday questioned the Centre’s move to charge people Rs 250 for the Covid-19 vaccine dosage.
A person aged above 45 with comorbidities or over 60-years can get inoculated at a designated centre for Rs 250 per dose in the third phase of the nationwide vaccination drive.
Taking umbrage at this, Chavan said that in the Phase-1, the Centre had procured 1.65 crore doses of the vaccine at a cost of Rs 210/dose.
“As per the Feb. 1 Budget speech of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Rs 35,000 crore has been allocated for the vaccination drive. In this amount, at the cost of Rs 210/dose, more than 1.50 billion doses can be procured,” Chavan said.
These 1.60 billion doses can help inoculate 75 crore of the Indians, covering almost the entire adult population of the country, and hence if budgetary provisions are made, then why the charges (Rs 250) are being levied, Chavan asked.
He pointed out that in countries like the US, the UK or Canada, citizens are getting free vaccines either by budgetary provisions or through insurance companies.
“I demand that all beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (Aayushman Bharat) must be given free Covid-19 vaccines,” Chavan said.
Taking a jibe at the government, the former Union Minister and state Chief Minister said that “despite lofty budgetary announcements and India being the largest supplier of the Covid-19 vaccine, the Modi Government is digging into the common man’s pocket” with the vaccine charges.
In a related development, the Federation of Hotels & Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI) has urged the Centre and Maharashtra government to declare the hospitality sector workers as ‘frontline warriors’ for priority vaccination, said its Vice-President G.S. Kohli.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra witnessed huge crowds for the Vaccination drive at all major designated centres in the state with senior citizens turning up in large numbers to get vaccinated.