The DMK president said that "the looting over vaccines is the more agonising thing during these times of grief" and added that differential pricing was 'injustice'.
No preventive, precautionary measure to tackle COVID-19 was taken by the Central and Tamil Nadu governments during the gap between the first and second waves of the pandemic, DMK president M K Stalin alleged on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi should announce that COVID-19 vaccines would be provided free of cost to people and implement it immediately, he said.
Urging the union government to ‘save people’ and avoid getting blamed in the pages of history, he said information from northern states on the COVID-19 scenario heightened fear.
The information was that hospitals had no beds, medicine, oxygen and vaccines and ‘not available’ was the refrain one found in news reports from northern states, Stalin said in a video message.
“During the first wave of coronavirus, Central and State governments failed in preventing it and both the governments failed in containing it too.” Not only the two governments learnt lessons from the ‘wrong committed’ during the first wave, but they did a bigger ‘second wrong.’ “No protective, precautionary measures were taken by Central and Tamil Nadu governments during the intervening six month period between the first and second waves of COVID-19 and we are seeing its result now in front of our eyes,” he alleged.
The union government did not pay attention despite a Parliamentary Standing Committee cautioning on oxygen scarcity as early as last November and the report of that panel was tabled in the Lok Sabha as well on February 2, he said.
Even during the second wave, vaccine doses and anti-viral drug ‘Remdesivir’ have been exported and “above all India sold oxygen to foreign countries.”
The Delhi High Court told Centre that it may “beg, borrow or steal” but must save lives by providing oxygen, the DMK leader said.
Despite the situation turning worse, the prices of vaccines were increased and it was injustice, he said. “The looting over vaccines is the more agonising thing during these times of grief.”
There was one price for the Centre, another for states and one more for private hospitals, he claimed adding all lives were equally important and differential pricing was ‘injustice.’
After the implementation of Goods and Services Tax, the states lost their authority to levy taxes to a great extent and it would be very difficult for state governments to tackle the situation arising out of the pandemic, he said. The Centre should, hence, allocate additional funds to states to tide over pandemic triggered tough times.
Tamil Nadu was able to manage the virus scenario to an extent in view of the strengthening of medical infrastructure over the past several decades, he said.
The AIADMK government, however, was not competent to properly utilise it, he alleged. He wanted the Tamil Nadu government to increase oxygen storage and stocks of vaccine doses.
Setting up of temporary hospitals and making arrangements to treat COVID-19 patients in primary health centres across the state were among his other demands.
To avoid shortage of medical oxygen in Tamil Nadu, which was currently being witnessed in northern states, his party said Vedanta’s Sterlite plant at Tuticorin could be reopened only for the limited purpose of temporarily producing oxygen for about four months, the DMK chief said.
Pointing to reports that the second wave of the pandemic would peak during May and the rising virus cases in Tamil Nadu, he said it was a cause of concern.
He appealed to the people to take care of their health and avoid getting infected. Stalin also requested them to follow norms to prevent virus spread like social distancing.
He also urged people to get vaccinated and those who had serious health issues should do so after consulting doctors.
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