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Centre diverting Oxygen supply to BJP-ruled states, says Mamata

Centre diverting Oxygen supply to BJP-ruled states, says Mamata
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Kolkata: Maintaining that she gives priority to Covid management over the ongoing polls, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Friday blamed the Centre of depriving Bengal of its quota of medical oxygen by diverting the supply to BJP-ruled states, especially Uttar Pradesh.

"SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) is dedicatedly supplying oxygen to cater to the needs of Bengal. But, now it is being diverted to Uttar Pradesh. This is unacceptable. I have also written to the Prime Minister urging him not to divert the medical oxygen to elsewhere as there is inadequate oxygen and medicine supply in the markets," Banerjee said, while virtually addressing a meeting in support of her party's candidate from West Burdwan. Banerjee decided to hold virtual meetings to avoid gatherings amid the spike in Covid cases.

Banerjee also alleged the Centre's step-motherly attitude towards the non-BJP states. She claimed that Gujarat had already received 60 per cent vaccine doses unlike other states, which had received only 15 to 20 per cent of the shots. "The Centre must give us vaccine doses and fix a rate after giving a clear direction regarding the fact from whom to procure the same," she said.

According to a statement issued by the state government, "the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on April 21 allotted 200 MT of oxygen from different plants located in Bengal to outside the state."

Banerjee raised her voice against diversion of medical oxygen outside Bengal considering that "the need for the same would rise to roughly 450 MT per day in the next couple of weeks keeping the current patient load and the rising trend of the infections in mind."

On Friday, about 12,876 people got infected and the disease claimed 59 lives.

"Hence, the present allocation of liquid oxygen outside Bengal will jeopardise the medical treatment of Covid patients in the state. I have no problem if it is given to someone who really needs it. But, we have seen how Covid vaccine doses have been given from a BJP party office in Gujarat," she said adding that the supply meant for industrial units is now being diverted to healthcare units.

Banerjee claimed at least 5,000 additional oxygen cylinders had been arranged taking the number up to 20,000. Retreating that the Centre has enough money with a huge collection in the PM-CARES fund, Banerjee said there would be a need of only Rs 20,000 crore for free-of-cost vaccination across the country. "They can spend crores of rupees to buy planes, construct new buildings of Parliament and set up statues, but cannot spend the amount to save the lives of people. The fact is that he cannot give vaccine doses to all at this moment as they have already shipped 65 per cent of the vaccine doses to other countries," Banerjee said, adding that the Prime Minister must act at this time of crisis instead of delivering tall talks.

Alleging that she was not invited to the Prime Minister's meeting on Covid situation with the Chief Ministers of 10 vulnerable states, Banerjee took a swipe at the Centre for not giving importance to WHO's advice in 2020 to develop a robust policy for medical oxygen.

Accusing the Election Commission of acting as per the BJP's directions, Banerjee held the saffron camp responsible for the surge in Covid cases in Bengal in its attempt to grab power in the state by bringing outsiders. "There are at least 4 lakh outsiders, including leaders and workers of a political party, in the state at present. They must be asked to go back as public meetings with huge gatherings have now been banned," she said.

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