Mamata writes to PM again to ensure free jabs for all in country
KOLKATA: Following a high-level meeting over the present Covid situation within hours of taking oath as the Chief Minister for the third consecutive term, Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to ensure free-of-cost Covid vaccine doses for all in the country besides introducing a transparent policy for distribution of vaccine and medical oxygen to the states.
Banerjee also accused the Centre of sending only 1.5 lakh vaccine doses to Bengal when it had sought 3 crore doses. She addressed a press conference at Nabanna after taking stock of the Covid situation on the first day after assuming the office of the Chief Minister for the third time.
"There are reports of vaccine doses lying unused in certain states and Bengal is provided with a minimum number of the same as if they are giving alms," she said.
Banerjee is the first political leader in the country to have raised the demand for free-of-cost vaccination for all while addressing her poll campaigns. Besides announcing free-of-cost vaccine doses for all in Bengal and creating a fund of Rs 100 crore, she had also declared of launching a movement to ensure the same for all in the country.
Considering the 'severity' of the Covid situation, Banerjee stated in her letter that "at the very outset, I would again like to emphasize on free vaccination for all. You may kindly recall my letter of February 24, wherein I had requested you to allow the government of West Bengal to procure vaccines from designated points for providing vaccination to people of the state free of cost. This has not yet been addressed."
Banerjee has also mentioned the inadequate stock of vaccine doses at a time when the Centre has allowed universal vaccination for all above 18 years. "At present, vaccine availability is too inadequate to provide to eligible beneficiaries and the Government of India directed to extend vaccination upto 18 years plus makes it unrealistic to achieve," Banerjee stated in her letter also mentioning that the supply of vaccines should be the core issue to be addressed now.
She has also mentioned the need for adequate availability of medicines and oxygen in the state to combat the Covid situation as its requirement is increasing every day. "At least, 10,000 doses of Remdesivir and 1,000 vials of Tocilizumab is the daily requirement in our state," the letter reads.
Stating that the requirement of oxygen in the state will go up to 500 MT per day in the next seven days, Banerjee urged the Prime Minister to direct concerned authorities to allocate at least 500 MT of medical oxygen per day out of the total oxygen produced in Bengal on an urgent basis to prevent any shortage as the "consumption of medical oxygen has increased rapidly from 220 MT per day to 400 MT per day now."
"Dearth of oxygen cylinders is also a matter of concern. I am told that 70 PSA units have been allotted to Bengal recently which is likely to take time to be installed. As such, to meet immediate necessity, the current system will have to be strengthened," she stated in the letter.