New Delhi, July 21
Opposition parties on Wednesday reacted strongly to the central government's claim in the Rajya Sabha that no deaths due to lack of oxygen were specifically reported by states and UTs during the second Covid-19 wave.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Wednesday said people whose relatives died due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic should "take the Union government to court".
Reacting to it, Raut said, “Many people have died due to oxygen shortage in several states. Those whose relatives (Covid-19 patients) died due to oxygen shortage should take the Union government to court."
"The Union government is running away from the truth. I seems it is the effect of Pegasus (Israeli spyware),” the Rajya Sabha member said sarcastically while talking to reporters.
The Sena's chief spokesperson further said it needs to be found out whether the people whose relatives died due to lack of oxygen supply believe in the Centre's response in Parliament over the issue.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said there have been many deaths due to oxygen shortage in Delhi and many other places across the country.
"If there was no shortage of oxygen, why did hospitals move court? Hospitals and the media had been flagging oxygen shortage issues daily. Television channels showed that how hospitals were running out of the life-saving gas. It is completely false to say that no one died due to oxygen shortage. There have been many deaths due to oxygen shortage in Delhi and many other places across the country," he said.
The Union government on Tuesday said in the Rajya Sabha that there was an unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave and it peaked at nearly 9,000 MT compared to 3,095 MT in the first wave, following which the Centre had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution among the states.
But there was an unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave and it peaked at nearly 9,000 MT compared to 3,095 MT in the first wave following which the Centre had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution among the states, it said.
Responding to a question on whether a large number of Covid-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar noted that health is a state subject and states and UTs regularly report the number of cases and deaths to the Centre.
"Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union Health Ministry to all states and UTs.
"Accordingly, all states and UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and UTs," Pawar said in a written reply.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday attacked the Centre over its statement that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen during the Covid second wave, alleging that the fatalities happened because the government increased oxygen exports in the pandemic year and did not arrange tankers to transport it.
Hitting out at the government, Priyanka Gandhi said, "'No death due to lack of oxygen': Central Government. The deaths happened because -- in the pandemic year, the government increased oxygen exports by about 700 per cent."
The Congress general secretary alleged that the deaths happened because the government did not arrange tankers to transport oxygen and ignoring the advice of the empowered group and a parliamentary committee, no arrangement was made to provide oxygen.
"No initiative was shown in setting up oxygen plants in hospitals," she said.
The Congress on Tuesday accused Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar of misleading Parliament by giving "false information" that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen during the second wave.
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