Updated: August 6, 2021 5:07:03 am
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, yet again, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday claiming the state is getting “much lower number of doses” despite having a high population density. Voicing fear that the Covid situation may turn grim again if there aren’t enough doses, she urged the PM to ramp up vaccine supply to the state.
“West Bengal will require around 14 crore doses of Covid vaccines to cover all the eligible people. Presently, we are administering four lakh doses per day and are capable of administering 11 lakh doses per day. Yet, we are getting a much lower number of doses despite having a very high population density and a higher rate of urbanisation,” read an excerpt from the CM’s letter.
She alleged that several letters sent to the PM on the issue earlier “did not receive due attention” at the Centre. “I’m sorry to say the central government is providing a larger number of vaccine doses to other states. I have no problem if any other state receives a higher number of vaccine doses, but I cannot remain a mute spectator to see Bengal deprived,” she said.
Meanwhile, the CM, on Thursday chaired a ‘Global Advisory Board on Covid’ meeting on a possible third wave, also featuring, among others, Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Binayak Banerjee.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Banerjee said, “The biggest problem is that the Centre is not capable of generating a supply of vaccines for the country. If there were enough vaccines, these claims wouldn’t have arisen. We have not received the promised level of supply for the nation.”
At a press conference later in the day, the CM claimed that Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka — all reuled by BJP — had received more vaccine doses than West Bengal.
“In terms of population, Gujarat, is smaller than West Bengal but has been given double the number of doses. I don’t have a problem with it. But I have a problem when our state is not getting enough vaccines. Karnataka’s population is 4 crore, while Bengal’s is about 11 crore. But we have received fewer doses,” Mamata said.
The CM added that the positivity rate in the state is currently at 1.57% and it was largely down to the state government’s efforts. She also appealed to people, especially those who aren’t vaccinated yet, to wear masks. She said parents must also make their children wear masks. “Please ensure that your children wear masks when they go out,” she said.
In her letter, Mamata wrote, “We were the first to raise the issue with the Central Government on providing vaccines free of cost. The Centre did not respond to the subject for a long time resulting in inadequate vaccination coverage of people in the country. In fact, we in Bengal had even requested the Government of India in February, 2021 to allow us to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers for the people of the state. But there was no response.”
—With PTI INPUTS
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