Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 21
Politics over Covid-19 deaths due to oxygen shortage continued today with the BJP claiming that the blame lay with the states and UTs for not reporting such fatalities to the Centre while the Congress, Shiv Sena and Aam Aadmi Party accused the Centre of trying to hide its mistakes during the second wave.
Party spokesperson Sambit Patra said the data presented in Parliament yesterday was not collated by the Centre but sent by states and union territories. “If the Opposition says the Centre has not given the correct data then they should ask their own state governments what went wrong,” Patra said, adding that states ruled by opposition parties claimed in courts that there was no death due to shortage of oxygen and made similar assertions in their response to the Centre.
Patra said the Maharashtra Government even told the Bombay High Court that no one died due to oxygen shortage and Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo also made similar claims.
The government had told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that no deaths due to lack of oxygen were specifically reported by states and UTs during the second Covid-19 wave, drawing sharp criticism from the Opposition.
With the AAP also targeting the Modi government on the issue, Patra said a Delhi Government committee had told the high court that there was no evidence to suggest that 21 persons died due to shortage of oxygen in the local Jaipur Golden Hospital. Reacting to Patra’s charges, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said the state did not have a record of deaths attributable to oxygen shortage because the Centre had not given a nod to the proposed panel to probe such fatalities.
“The Centre is hiding its faults. Mismanagement and changes in oxygen distribution policy after April 13 led to shortages of oxygen and caused a disaster nationally,” said Sisodia.
Echoing him, Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain asked: “If that (BJP’s account) was true, why would one hospital after another move the Delhi High Court for relief?” Across April and May, several Delhi hospitals sent out SOS calls regarding shrinking oxygen supplies and many of them reported deaths. Congress leader Priyanka Vadra also slammed the Centre, saying deaths occurred because the government exported oxygen and did not arrange proper transportation.
While Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut termed as insensitive the Centre’s reply to Parliament that “states and UTs had not reported any specific deaths related to oxygen shortage”, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope admitted today that the state did not report any oxygen-related death.
“The Maharashtra Government never reported any death due to shortage of oxygen during the second wave,” Tope said.
On 22 patients dying after disruptions in oxygen supply at a Nashik hospital, Tope said a probe would be held to see if negligence caused a leakage in the oxygen storage plant which led to the tragedy.
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