Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday raised the issue of West Bengal’s financial dues from the Centre during a video conference on the pandemic and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the Centre issues guidelines on “which vaccine (medicine) to be procured and used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic”.
She was speaking at a video conference of chief ministers of ten states, including West Bengal, convened by Modi to discuss the coronavirus situation in the country. “The central government has raised the limit of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management from three per cent to five per cent. But only 0.5 per cent out of the increased two per cent has been made unconditional. We requested the central government to make the remaining 1.5 per cent unconditional too for one year.,”
“Besides this, the state is still to receive Rs 4135 crore towards GST compensation and overall outstanding dues of
Rs 53000 crore from the central government,” Banerjee was quoted to have said in the conference in a West Bengal government media statement.
During the virtual meeting, the TMC supremo also raised the issue of which COVID-19 vaccine or serum should be used to treat the patients and urged the Centre to issue guidelines on it.
“Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine (medicine), the central government should authorise which one is to be procured and used. It must issue guidelines in this regard,” she said.
She also requested the Centre to provide the state more high flow nasal canulas and more ventilators for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Banerjee said though the situation due to the pandemic is critical throughout the country, it is stable and people should not panic.
Listing the steps taken by the West Bengal government to tackle the contagion, she said “CPMS (COVID Patient Management System) is functioning in our state to identify critical, moderate, mild and asymptomatic patients on a real
time basis for immediate medical attention. Every patient admitted in government or private hospital is monitored centrally by health experts”.
Claiming that ASHA and health workers have made 30 crore visits to 2.5 crore households in Bengal, Banerjee said the state has set up a 1500-strong team of pandemic survivors and has a ‘COVID-19 Warriors Club’ in every district. Banerjee, who had faced flak for not allowing implementation of Centre’s Ayushman Bharat health scheme in West Bengal, said the state government has provided its Swastha Sathi cards to 7.5 crore people of the state with health coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family.
On the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state, she said it was West Bengal which had emphasized on death audits.
“We had emphasized on death audits right from the beginning and now it is vindicated that comorbidity is an important element in COVID-19 deaths. Eighty-nine per cent of COVID deaths in West Bengal have been due to comorbidities like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, cardiac disease etc,” Banerjee said.
The Trinamool Congress government is facing flak both from the Centre and opposition parties over COVID-19 deaths
and have been accused of trying to hush up figures. The chief minister said the state has more than 100 safe homes with more than 7000 beds for people who have difficulty in home isolation.
Tele-medicine services are being provided by a team of 96 doctors 24X7 through a toll-free number, she added.