June 5, 2021 3:12:30 am
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Sidhu found himself in the opposition’s line of fire on Friday with all major political parties in the state seeking a probe in what they called ‘vaccination scam’ over alleged black marketing of vaccines. They also sought immediate resignation of the Health Minister.
AAP, BJP, SAD and SAD (Samyukta) also accused CM Amarinder Singh of dereliction of duty and allowing government quota of vaccines to be sold at more than double the price to private hospitals, who, in turn, vaccinated patients at an even higher cost.
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal demanded a criminal case be registered against Sidhu and that he be dismissed immediately. Badal said allowing private institutions to make profit at the cost of human lives was an inhuman act. “Balbir Sidhu cannot get away with this criminal act by feigning ignorance. It is his department officers who have sanctioned this act. Sidhu should be dismissed immediately and a judicial probe should be conducted into this multi-crore scam,” he added.
Badal alleged that CM Capt Amarinder Singh encouraged the scam by not taking timely action and was still silent on this crime against humanity.
“Instead of serving the people during a time of health emergency by ensuring speedy vaccination free of cost, the CM is persecuting the people by forcing them to cough up Rs 1,560 to Rs 2,100 per dose despite receiving the same for only Rs 400 per dose,” he said.
Badal also expressed shock at the manner in which Chief Secretary Vinni Mahajan had “become a tool in the conspiracy to make private hospitals profit from the sale of vaccines”.
“The chief secretary went to the extent of tweeting the name of the private hospitals where people could get themselves vaccinated at steep rates instead of giving information about availability of vaccines in the government sector,” he added.
AAP Punjab affairs co-incharge and MLA from Delhi, Raghav Chadha said that the Congress government had “committed a major vaccine scam”.
“Captain Amarinder should tell the people of Punjab that to which Congress leader did he give crores of rupees collected through black marketing of free medicines. Has the money for the vaccine scam been given to the Congress party high command,” questioned Chadha demanding a high-level judicial probe in the matter.
In Delhi, Union minister Prakash Javadekar accused the Amarinder Singh dispensation of “making a profit” from vaccination. “It’s dangerous news. They (Punjab government) got over 1.40 lakh doses of Covaxin at Rs 400 each. They gave some of the vaccines to 20 private hospitals at Rs 1,000 each. The state government wants to make a profit from the vaccination…What kind of government is it?” Javadekar said.
Pointing out that the Centre has so far given a total of 22 crore vaccines to different states free-of-cost, the minister said, “They should pay attention to their management so that people of Punjab get relief. This is the demand and expectation of the people today.”
The minister also hit out at senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also. “I would suggest to Rahul that instead of giving lectures to others, he should first think how works can be done properly in his state,” he said.
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said that a criminal case needed to be registered against all those involved in the alleged scam under which the vaccine provided by the Centre for poor working class was sold on commercial rates to the private hospitals, who in turn made huge money out of it.
Chugh said it was “pure black marketing by the state government of the vaccine”.
“All this has been happening when Punjab last month recorded 2.7 Covid death rate which is among the highest in the country,” he said, adding that Centre must take action in the matter. Chug also sought the resignation of Balbir Sidhu.
SAD (Samyukta) senior leader Bir Devinder Singh alleged that ‘vaccine mafia’ had become active in Punjab.
“People of Punjab were already angry and tormented because of the unabated and brazen loot of the mafias, such as land, sand, transport, cable and electricity mafias and now the bandwagon of mafia’s has further swelled with the arrival of a new ‘vaccine mafia’,” he said.
Bir Devinder demanded that the health minister must immediately submit his resignation.
“It is preposterous that while people are crying to obtain vaccination in government hospitals and other Covid centers, the government is engaged in the ‘vaccine trade’ and marketing the vaccine at hefty premium to private players,” he said.
He demanded that the alleged scam must be probed by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
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