DAWN PUNJAB BUREAU / CHANDIGARH : Categorically rejecting the Opposition’s allegations on supply of vaccines to some private hospitals and procurement of Fateh Kits as “politically motivated”, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said there was no question of the state government making profits amid the pandemic, which it was battling hard to save lives.
Lashing out at the Akalis and AAP for spreading misinformation to further their political ambitions and weakening the state’s war against Covid by raising non-issues, the Chief Minister charged the two parties with making motivated hue and cry to push their electoral agendas with an eye on the 2022 Assembly elections.
Asserting that the state government had not indulged in any wrongdoing, the Chief Minister said quick and unusual decisions have to be taken in an emergency war-like situation. All protocols were strictly followed and emergency ruled were invoked to meet the crisis, he added. All decisions were taken in the interest of the people of the state, and all due procedures were followed, he said, terming media reports on alleged scams as nothing but sensationalism.
Captain Amarinder said he was with his officials 100% on these issues, adding that all the right steps were taken and no amount of Opposition hullaballoo can undermine the true intent of his government, which was focused on protecting the lives of the people. The state’s doctors and bureaucrats had been doing an excellent job in fighting the war with their backs against the wall, he said, declaring that the Punjab would beat the virus.
The Chief Minister took serious note of the large-scale gatherings being organised by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) against the state government in brazen violation of the Covid safety protocols and the curbs in place. In their desperation for power, Sukhbir Badal and his party colleagues were endangering the lives of the people through such gatherings, he added.
Sukhbir & Co. saw scams everywhere because their own government had been seeped in all kinds of scams, and had pocketed crores of rupees at the cost of the people’s hard-earned money, said the Chief Minister, dismissing all allegations as nonsensical and baseless.
The 40000-odd doses made available to some private hospitals was a one-time measure as a step to provide some vaccination options to non-priority groups in 18-45 category, said Captain Amarinder. The hospitals were provided the vaccines at the price at which they were to buy from the manufacturers, he pointed out, adding that the decision was taken as there were initially only two private hospitals in Punjab that had managed to procure the vaccine from the 25% quota reserved by the Central Government. Students and others travelling abroad needed vaccine urgently, and were willing to pay, so the state government had decided to make it available to private hospitals as an emergency measure, he said.
However, since the decision of the Government was not being taken in the right spirit, it was withdrawn, but there was no question of any irregularity as the entire money went into the Health Department’s vaccination fund and was to be used to buy vaccines given free by the state, he added.
On the issue of Fateh Kits, the Chief Minister said it was creditable that the Health Department, which had been working day and night to provide the best possible care to the people, had ensured timely supplies were ensured even at the peak of the wave. Pulse oxymeters were made available in these kits even though there was a shortage as there was no supply from the international markets, he said, adding Punjab in fact managed to purchase these at a lower price than many other states.
“My Government has always prioritised human lives and playing politics and spreading misinformation in times of a pandemic is extremely unfortunate and ill-conceived,” said Captain Amarinder.
The state government has currently distributed 7475 Fateh Kits, covering 80.92% of the currently active cases in home isolation.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal later said of the 42,000 vaccines given to private hospitals, only 1300 were used and the remaining had already been returned to the state government. The government was asking the Centre to give the unallocated quota of the private hospitals to the state, following the revised vaccination policy, as per which the Government of India will procure 75% of Vaccine manufactured. Under the revised policy, GoI will provide vaccine to states and UTs for vaccination of 18 Plus age group from June 21, and the same will be given to the people free of cost. Manufacturers have been requested to supply State procured vaccines before June 21.