Put pressure on Centre to assist on Covid, Punjab CM asks MPs

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged Congress MPs from the state to put pressure the Centre to augment supplies of oxygen, tankers, vaccines and vital medicines to help the state government effectively fight the deadly second wave of the pandemic.

Exhorting the MPs to push the Centre to enhance the state’s quota of oxygen and dispatch additional tankers on priority to enable lifting of the full allocated quota of 195 metric tonnes (MT) on a daily basis, he said Punjab was being meted out step-motherly treatment by the Centre in the matter of supplies needed urgently to battle Covid.

The Chief Minister said that BJP-ruled neigbouring Haryana had got a bigger oxygen quota and more tankers than Punjab.

Expressing concern over the issue, the MPs, from both Houses of Parliament, promised to utilise their MPLAD funds to set up oxygen generation plants in government hospitals, to complement the state government’s efforts in tackling the exponential rise in patient load in Punjab, where a large number of patients are also coming from neighbouring states for treatment.

Besides shortage of oxygen, tankers vaccines and medicines, the state was facing issues even on the ventilators front, since there was no BEL engineer to install 108 of the 809 ventilators received from the Centre, said the Chief Minister.

Amarinder Singh told the MPs that despite the state’s repeated pleas and his personal letters to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister for increase in oxygen quota for the state by 50 MT, the state was still struggling with insufficient oxygen supply.

The 195 MT quota allocated was inadequate for the state to meet its present needs, and even that could not be completely lifted due to shortage of tankers, he noted, adding that the state was currently facing a backlog of 120 MT from nearby sources (Dehradun, Panipat, Roorkee).

The situation, he said, was grim as the state was currently managing on a 12-hour supply cycle.

On the vaccination front, the MPs expressed concern over the low supplies and repeated delays from the Centre.

The Chief Minister said the state government was continuously engaging with both, the Central government and the Serum Institute of India, to expedite availability.

“The Centre’s apathy towards Punjab was also reflected in the fact that many other states had been given more vials of Tocilizumab, whose import and distribution was controlled by it,” he said.

The state had sought 650 vials but was given only 200 in the initial stages, which were distributed to government and private hospitals, he added.

Even Remdesivir continued to be in short supply, as delivery of the 50,000 vials allocated to the state was extremely slow, he said.

The meeting also took serious note of the “poor response” of the Central government institutions in matter related to health and medical infrastructure in the state.