Updated: August 26, 2021 8:22:46 am
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused the Centre Wednesday of playing fraud on the people of Delhi by not allowing the state government to form a committee to look into deaths caused by shortage of oxygen during the second Covid wave in April and May.
Sisodia said that in response to his letter asking that Delhi be allowed to form a committee to look into these deaths, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had said that there was no need.
“He said there was no need to form such a committee. Why does he say so? He says so because a task force was formed by the Supreme Court, which had 12-point terms of reference, of which five were related to oxygen. He wrote that there was no need for a separate committee because of this task force. I looked at the terms of reference of the SC task force and realised that not a single of those deals with looking into deaths caused by the lack of oxygen,” Sisodia said.
The standoff between the Centre and Delhi over the issue dates back to May, when the state government had formed a four-member committee to look into claims of Covid deaths because of the lack of oxygen. The L-G, however, did not sign off on the formation.
During the Monsoons session of the Parliament, the Health Ministry had said that no state had provided any information on oxygen shortage deaths to them.
Since then, the Delhi government and the Centre have been in a pitched battle, with the former saying that unless the committee is formed, the state cannot provide the Centre with a number.
Sisodia had written to Mandaviya earlier this month as well, asking that permission to form the committee be granted. On Wednesday, he said that Mandaviya had written to him refusing permission.
“If you look at the mandate of the task force which the minister is citing to deny permission to us to form the committee, you see that it looked into the distribution of oxygen, the availability, the interstate movement, and the availability of drugs, medicine and doctors. This is a big fraud being played by the Centre on its people. When the task force is not meant to look into these deaths, why will it?” he said.
Sisodia also said that the minister had pointed to the presence of the sub-group constituted by the Supreme Court on oxygen to deny permission.
“This sub-group, with the AIIMS director, a doctor from the Max hospital, a state representative and a central representative was constituted to look into the supply, distribution, inventory and distribution. This shows that both the reasons given by the Centre are fraud. If the SC task force was probing deaths, why did you ask states for the information? You have been lying continuously. The truth is that the distribution of oxygen was mismanaged by the Centre thoroughly. It forced its own people to die… Let the enquiry happen otherwise the truth will never come out,” he said.
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