Centre has been unfair to Maharashtra
While Union Ministers do not tire of accusing Maharashtra of mismanagement, the record says something entirely different
Public health is a state subject but from the very beginning of the pandemic, the Centre took control of all aspects after invoking the Disaster Management Act. There should have been more decentralisation then because states were better equipped with relevant information.
Haffkine institute in Maharashtra has been making vaccines for a long time and they were keen to have the technology to produce Covid vaccine. Maharashtra government too has been writing to the Centre since December to allow it but the permission came only in the middle of April. Had it been allowed in December, Haffkine would have started producing the vaccines by now.
The Centre discriminated in the distribution of even PPE kits and N95. T masks. Then there was discrimination in vaccine distribution. Gujarat with less population was given more vaccines than Maharashtra. When the Maharashtra health Minister brought the issue to light, the Centre finally brought about parity. But why this discrimination in the first place?
The Centre has been pointing fingers at the number of cases in Maharashtra but that’s because Maharashtra is doing maximum number of tests, around 2,60,000 tests per day. Maharashtra also has the highest number of vaccination and testing centres. We have 3,75,000 Covid hospital beds. We had only two testing labs when the pandemic started, now we have raised the number to around 500. This entire infrastructure has been created during the pandemic on our own.
Although Maharashtra is still waiting for about 90 thousand crores of GST compensation from the Centre. Nor did Maharashtra get anything from the PMCARE fund. The ventilators that were sent were sub-standard and reported technical glitches within days.
Certain exporters in Maharashtra had a stock of 20 lakh vials of Remdivisir which they were unable to export due to change in policy. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray immediately ordered the department to purchase the stock but the trader refused to sell. They claimed Health Ministry had asked all orders to be routed through the centre. When the Maharashtra Police summoned the trader for questioning Devendra fadnavis jumped in their defence.
BJP has created the current Remdivisir crisis and the oxygen crisis. Why would they otherwise export medical oxygen during the last one year? The Centre is now asking us to buy oxygen from states which are 1500 kilometres away; why not from neighbouring states? The Chief Minister has written to the PMO asking the Army and Air Force's help in airlifting oxygen but again we have not received any response.
We immediately need the centre to release the GST compensation amount, to help us with supply of oxygen, Remdivisir and Tocilizumab the two medicines controlled by the centre.
(As told to Sanjukta Basu. Charan Singh Sapra is Working President, Mumbai Congress)