Karnataka Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to “address the ongoing health emergency” in the country, and demanded that the Centre be committed towards helping state governments combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Central government played the role of a catalyst in increasing the number of (Covid-19) cases by allowing events like Kumbh mela and huge campaigns during election,” Siddaramaiah said. He added that it was unfortunate that the central government was doing “very little to ease the stress” and did not plan for the second wave in advance, despite warning from the Parliamentary Committee.
The former Karnataka CM highlighted that the Centre needs to intervene in the present scenario. “People are dying without necessary adequate healthcare infrastructure like beds, ventilators, medical oxygen, and potential treatment drugs like Remdesivir. The demand is 35-40 times more than what is being allocated to Karnataka,” he said.
He further said that the Centre was trying to transfer the burden on to the states. “When there is a health emergency in the whole country, states cannot compete against each other for procurement (of essential items).
While Karnataka contributes more than Rs 2.5 lakh crore as taxes, the Centre has allocated only Rs 21,694 crore back to the state, he alleged. “In the interest of the people of Karnataka, I strongly demand the Central government to release more funds and allocate necessary infrastructure immediately to address the crisis,” he wrote to Modi.
‘Free vaccine, Rs 10,000 compensation to poor families need of the hour’
Siddarmaiah reiterated his demand to distribute Covid vaccines free of cost to the state governments, questioning the use of Rs 35,000 allocation made by the Centre in the recent Union budget towards Covid-19 vaccines
“How and where will this allocated amount be spent if state governments and private hospitals have to procure the vaccines by paying to the manufacturers? ” he said.
The senior Congress leader also demanded the Centre to extend the allocation under the free-rice scheme to 10 kilograms per person for the next six months. “A compensation of Rs 10,000 should be given to all poor families. It is also necessary to expand MNREGA work on demand basis and increase the wages across the country so that workers returning from cities have sufficient access to income opportunities,” he said while noting the possible economic fallout to many after the ongoing 14-day ‘closedown’ in Karnataka.