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Punjab CM Amarinder Singh urges state Congress MPs to put pressure on the Centre for more O2 tankers

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged Congress MPs from the state to pressurize the Centre to augment supplies of Oxygen, tankers, vaccines and vital medicines to help the state government effectively fight the deadly second wave of the pandemic.

Exhorting the MPs to push the Government of India to enhance the state’s quota of Oxygen and dispatch additional tankers on priority to enable lifting of the full allocated quota of 195 MT on daily basis, the Chief Minister said Punjab was being meted out stepmotherly treatment by the Centre in the matter of supplies needed urgently to battle Covid.

Pointing out the chief minister said that BJP-ruled neigbouring Haryana had got a bigger Oxygen quota and more tankers than Punjab.

Expressing concern over the issue, the MPs, from both Houses, promised to utilize their MPLAD funds to set up Oxygen generation plants in government hospitals, to complement the state government’s efforts in tackling the exponential rise in patient load in Punjab, where a large number of patients are also coming from neighbouring states for treatment. Besides shortage of Oxygen, tankers vaccines and medicines, the state was facing issues even on the ventilators front, since there was no BEL engineer to install 108 of the 809 ventilators received from the Government of India, said the Chief Minister.

Captain Amarinder told the MPs that despite the state’s repeated pleas and his personal letters to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister for increase in Oxygen quota for the state by 50 MT, the state was still struggling with insufficient Oxygen supply. The 195 MT quota allocated was inadequate for the state to meet its present needs, and even that could not be completely lifted due to shortage of tankers, he noted, adding that the state was currently facing a backlot of 120 MT from nearby sources (Dehradun, Panipat, Roorkee). The situation, he said, was grim was the state was currently managing on a 12 hours supply cycle.

On the vaccination front, the MPs expressed concern over the low supplies and repeated delays from the Government of India. The Chief Minister said the state government was continuously engaging with both, the Central Government and the Serum Institute of India, to expedite availability.

The Centre’s apathy towards Punjab was also reflected in the fact that many other states had been given more vials of Tocilizumab, whose import and distribution was controlled by GoI, said the Chief Minister. The state had sought 650 vials but was given only 200 in the initial stages, which were distributed to government and private hospitals, he added. Even Remdesivir continued to be in short supply, as delivery of the 50000 vials allocated to the state was extremely slow, he said.

The meeting also took serious note of the poor response of central government institutions in matter related to health and medical infrastructure in the state. In spite of repeated requests, GOI institutions such as IISER Mohali never gave support in Covid testing, said the Chief Minister, adding that even AIIMS Bathinda, whose foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister over 5 years ago, has not been able to provide any critical Covid care. PGI, which was set up as the main referral hospital for the region, was mostly refusing to take patients referred from Punjab (even though walk-in patients are being taken), and was even conducting fewer tests than Punjab colleges.

The MPs expressed concern over the Chief Minister’s disclosure that genome sequence results had not been received for the past one month.

On the issue of phased reopening of shops from tomorrow, he told the MPs that DCs and SSPs had been asked to work out arrangements after taking stakeholders into confidence.

Those who attended meeting included MP Amritsar Gurjeet Singh Aujla, MP Patiala Preneet Kaur, MP Fatehgarh Sahib Dr. Amar Singh, MP Khadur Sahib Jasbir Singh Gill, MP Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu, MP Jalandhar Santokh Singh Chaudhary, MP Sri Anandpur Sahib Manish Tewari, MP Faridkot Mohd. Sadique besides Members Rajya Sabha, Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo and PPCC President Sunil Jakhar.

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