Leaders of opposition parties led by the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress on Wednesday lashed out at the Centre over its statement that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen during the Covid second wave.
In an online press briefing, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused the Centre of “shamelessly telling white lies in Parliament” and said that there was utter chaos due to oxygen shortage after April 15 till May 5.
Sisodia also charged the Centre with trying to “hide its fault” and alleged that its “mismanagement” and change in oxygen distribution policy after April 13 caused shortage of life-saving gas in the hospitals across the country, leading to a “disaster”.
All deaths reportedly caused due to shortage of oxygen during second wave of COVID-19 in the city will be probed if the Centre allows the Delhi government to form a panel, the AAP leader said.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday took on the Modi government over its “no deaths due to shortage of oxygen” response in Rajya Sabha and alleged that the fatalities happened because the government increased oxygen exports in the pandemic year and did not arrange tankers to transport it.
Hitting out at the government, Priyanka Gandhi said, “The deaths happened because — in the pandemic year, the government increased oxygen exports by about 700 per cent.”
The Congress general secretary alleged that the deaths happened because the government did not arrange tankers to transport oxygen and ignoring the advice of the empowered group and a parliamentary committee, no arrangement was made to provide oxygen. “No initiative was shown in setting up oxygen plants in hospitals,” she said.
The Congress on Tuesday accused Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar of misleading Parliament by giving “false information” that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen during the second wave. In a written reply to a question, Pawar had said, “Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union Health Ministry to all states and UTs. Accordingly, all states and UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and UTs”.
In a sharp response, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said people whose relatives died due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of COVID19 pandemic should “take the Union government to court”.
Reacting to it, Raut said, Many people have died due to oxygen shortage in several states.Those whose relatives (COVID-19 patients) died due to oxygen shortage should take the Union government to court.”
“The Union government is running away from the truth. I seems it is the effect of Pegasus (Israeli spyware), the Rajya Sabha member said sarcastically while talking to reporters. The Sena’s chief spokesperson further said it needs to be found out whether the people whose relatives died due to lack of oxygen supply believe in the Centre’s response in Parliament over the issue.
On the other hand, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said there have been many deaths due to oxygen shortage in Delhi and many other places across the country. “If there was no shortage of oxygen, why did hospitals move court? Hospitals and the media had been flagging oxygen shortage issues daily. Television channels showed that how hospitals were running out of the lifesaving gas. It is completely false to say that no one died due to oxygen shortage. There have been many deaths due to oxygen shortage in Delhi and many other places across the country,” he said.
Sisodia said the Kejriwal government, by taking responsibility, tried to form a committee to audit all the deaths that happened reportedly due to oxygen shortage but the Centre prevented it through the LG. He claimed that the Centre did not allow formation of the committee “fearing its mismanagement will be exposed”.
The Kejriwal government is still ready for an independent audit of each death due to oxygen shortage if the Centre allows it to form the committee, he added. The central government on Tuesday informed the Rajya Sabha that no deaths due to lack of oxygen were specifically reported by states and UTs during the second COVID-19 wave.
But there was an unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave and it peaked at nearly 9,000 MT compared to 3,095 MT in the first wave following which the Centre had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution among the states, it said.