Updated: May 6, 2021 10:36:41 pm
As the Covid-19 pandemic continued raging, Congress MPs from Punjab on Thursday asked Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to think it through, and decide if a 15-day complete lockdown was needed in the state to prevent a Delhi-like situation.
Capt. Amrinder, who was holding a meeting of party MPs from Punjab virtually, was told by the MPs that ‘piecemeal measures’ were not working and he should have a bird’s eye view and take a call on whether there should be a complete lockdown.
The MPs told the CM that the health care institutions were already overwhelmed and if there was a need to heed the suggestions of health experts and a lockdown could be considered. The CM told the MPs to hold virtual meetings with DCs, MLAs and prominent people in the area and get feedback on whether a total lockdown was needed or not.
Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa told the meeting that the state government should rope in religious places, on the lines of a Covid hospital set up by Radha Soami Satsang , Beas sect in Delhi, and get them to set up temporary hospitals in Punjab, more so since there was a warning of a possible third wave of the disease hitting the country in September.
Bajwa is also learnt to have told the meeting that instead of Bokaro, the state should get oxygen supplies from Lahore and Karachi which were closer to Punjab, when compared to Bokaro. Shamsher Dullo and Ravneet Bittu seconded Bajwa on this proposal. The CM told the MPs that he had already written a letter to PM Narendra Modi seeking permission for the same.
The MPs also told the CM to rope in all cantonments in the state as well as the paramilitary forces to help set up hospitals across the state.
A government statement after the meeting said that the CM had asked MPs to pressurize the Centre to augment supplies of oxygen, tankers, vaccines and vital medicines to help the state effectively fight the deadly second wave of the pandemic.
Exhorting the MPs to push the Government of India to enhance the state’s quota of Oxygen and dispatch additional tankers on priority basis to enable lifting of the full allocated quota of 195 MT on daily basis, the Chief Minister said Punjab was being meted out stepmotherly treatment by the Centre in matterd of supplies needed urgently to battle Covid.
Captain Amrinder pointed out that the BJP-ruled neigbouring state of Haryana had got a bigger Oxygen quota and more tankers than Punjab.
Expressing concern over the issue, the MPs, from both Houses, promised to utilize their MPLAD funds to set up Oxygen generation plants in government hospitals, to complement the state government’s efforts in tackling the exponential rise in patient load in Punjab, where a large number of people were also coming from neighbouring states for treatment.
Besides shortage of Oxygen, tankers, vaccines and medicines, the state was also facing issues on the front of ventilators, since there was no BEL engineer to install 108 of the 809 ventilators received from the Government of India, said the Chief Minister.
Capt. Amarinder told the MPs that despite the state’s repeated pleas and his letters to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister for an increase in Oxygen quota for the state by 50 MT, the state was still gasping for breath. The 195 MT quota allocated was inadequate for the state to meet its present needs, and even that could not be completely lifted due to shortage of tankers, he noted, adding that the state was currently facing a backlot of 120 MT from nearby sources (Dehradun, Panipat, Roorkee). The situation, he said, was grim and the state was currently managing on a 12 hour supply cycle.
On the vaccination front, the MPs expressed concern over the low supplies and repeated delays from the Government of India. The Chief Minister said the state government was continuously engaging with both, the Central Government and the Serum Institute of India, to expedite availability.
The Centre’s apathy towards Punjab was also reflected in the fact that many other states had been given more vials of Tocilizumab, whose import and distribution is controlled by the Centre, said the Chief Minister. The state had sought 650 vials but was given only 200 in the initial stages, which were distributed to government and private hospitals, he added. Even Remdesivir continued to be in short supply, as delivery of the 50000 vials allocated to the state was extremely slow, he said.
The meeting also took serious note of the poor response of Central government institutions in matters related to health and medical infrastructure in the state. In spite of repeated requests, the Central institutions, such as IISER Mohali, never supported in Covid testing, said the Chief Minister, adding that even AIIMS Bathinda, whose foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister over 5 years ago, has not been able to provide any critical Covid care. PGI, which was set up as the main referral hospital for the region, was mostly refusing to take patients referred from Punjab (even though walk-in patients are being taken), and was even conducting fewer tests than Punjab colleges.
The MPs expressed concern over the Chief Minister’s disclosure that genome sequence results had not been received for the last one month.
On the issue of phased reopening of shops from Friday, he told the MPs that the DCs and SSPs had been asked to work out arrangements after taking stakeholders into confidence.
Those who attended meeting included MP Amritsar Gurjeet Singh Aujla, MP Patiala Preneet Kaur, MP Fatehgarh Sahib Dr. Amar Singh, MP Khadur Sahib Jasbir Singh Gill, MP Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu, MP Jalandhar Santokh Singh Chaudhary, MP Sri Anandpur Sahib Manish Tewari, MP Faridkot Mohd. Sadique besides Members Rajya Sabha, Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo and PPCC President Sunil Jakhar.
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