Celebrations won't heal wounds; set up commission to probe mismanagement of COVID pandemic: Congress

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked PM Modi by when will the country's adult population be fully vaccinated as only about 21 per cent of them have, till now, received both doses

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala (File photo)
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala (File photo)
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PTI

The Congress on Thursday demanded that a commission be formed to impartially probe COVID-19 deaths in the country and the government's mismanagement in handling of the pandemic, besides recommending corrective measures.

Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi by when will the country's adult population be fully vaccinated as only about 21 per cent of them have, till now, taken both the doses.

On a day the country crossed the 100-crore doses administered mark, the Congress leader said 32 crore of the total 103 crore adult population has not received a single jab so far.

"The prime minister should tell the country by when will his promise of vaccinating all adults be fulfilled. He had set December 31 as the deadline, but it requires over 1.5 crore vaccinations every day till the end of this year to achieve this," Surjewala said.

He also said that celebrations would not heal wounds of people who have lost their dear ones, and the government should prepare for vaccinating all people, including children, and ensure their safety.

"We demand that the BJP government set up an independent 'Corona Inquiry Commission' to fix accountability of those who lost their lives during coronavirus (pandemic) and conduct a fresh survey of those who died due to coronavirus and provide their families with adequate compensation," he told reporters.

Surjewala said that the commission should comprise of experts, judges and 'corona warriors'.

It should look into the deaths due to COVID-19, conduct a fresh survey of deaths and give recommendations to prevent fatalities in the future, he said.

"The Modi government should understand that celebrations won't heal wounds. The time has come to seek accountability of the Modi government for endangering the lives of people through its incompetence, criminal negligence and repeated change of vaccine policy," the Congress leader said.

Surjewala said the government should be held criminally liable for the over 4.53 lakh lives lost due to its incompetence and lack of commitment to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and said the government should take responsibility.

He also posed a set of seven questions to the government and asked why approvals have not been granted to Biological-E and Johnson and Johnson vaccines which would be manufactured in India.

The Congress leader also sought to know by when will the government decide on the booster doses of vaccine for "health warriors" and those above 65 years of age. They are the ones who need them the most, he said.

The government should clarify its position on this as many countries have approved the same, Surjewala said.

He said lakhs of people lost their lives due to lack medicines, oxygen and medical aid in the absence of infrastructure and government's inept handling of the pandemic.

Of the top 20 countries which have fully vaccinated its population, India is 19th with only 21 per cent of its eligible population having taken both doses of the vaccine, Surjewala said.

"By which date will 74 crore adult Indians get 106 crore doses of coronavirus vaccine, as only 29 crore people have been fully vaccinated yet and 42 crore have taken the first jab," he said.

Surjewala said going by the current rate, 39 lakh vaccines were administered daily between October 16 and 21, and for providing 106 crore jabs in the next 70 days, an average 151 lakh daily inoculations are required.

The Congress leader also asked why the government is not criminally culpable for depriving children below 18 years of age from vaccine and why Indian-made Covaxin has not yet been approved by the World Health Organisation.

Surjewala also said that the government has earned Rs 13 per litre more with taxes on petrol and Rs 16 on diesel per litre since March last year. It has earned Rs 1.42 lakh crore more through increased taxes on fuel and should return the excess money as vaccines cost Rs 20,600 crore, he said.

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