The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court wants the Maharashtra government to come clean on the allocation of Remdesivir vials for different districts. (HT Photo/Himanshu Vyas)
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court wants the Maharashtra government to come clean on the allocation of Remdesivir vials for different districts. (HT Photo/Himanshu Vyas)

Maha minister’s district has 7,800 cases, got 30,000 Remdesivir vials, HC told

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay high court was told that Maharashtra public health minister Rajesh Tope’s home district, Jalna, was given disproportionately larger number of Remdesivir vials.
By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON APR 29, 2021 09:02 PM IST

The Bombay high court ordered a top Maharashtra official to report the district-wise allocation of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and the basis on which this allocation had been made.The directions by the Nagpur bench of the high court came after being told that public health minister Rajesh Tope’s home district Jalna, which has just 7,800 active Covid-19 cases, received 30,000 vials for 7,600 active cases on Wednesday while Nagpur didn’t get a single vial though it has over 78,000 Covid positive patients.

“In case he (state’s Nodal Officer) finds that more number of vials than what should have been sent to a particular district has been sent, the Nodal Officer shall withdraw the same from that district proportionately and send them to the districts which have been unjustly and unequally deprived of these vials, and this would include Nagpur as well,” the high court bench comprising Justices Sunil Shukre and Avinash Gharote said.

The officer has been told to report compliance to the court order by Friday afternoon.

The bench was hearing a suo-motu public interest litigation that blames the state government for mismanagement of the resources.

Indian Medical Association (IMA) lawyer Shreerang Bhandarkar, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court), told the high court that the Centre had initially allotted 2.69 lakh Remdesivir vials for Maharashtra for April 21-30. This allocation was enhanced to 4.35 lakh on April 24.

Considering the number of active cases, Nagpur district should have received 49,177 vials during the nine days, but only received a fraction of this figure. In contrast, Jalna district received 30,000 vials of Remdesivir vials on Wednesday from one or two pharmaceutical companies, he said.

Bhandarkar said according to their calculations based on the number of active patients, the per day quota of these vials for Jalna district is 598 vials which would translate into 5,980 vials over a 10-day period. But it received 30,000 vials yesterday.

Lawyer Tushar Mandelkar said Nagpur hadn’t received a single vial on some days during this 10-day period leading to a precarious situation.

Ketaki Joshi, the government pleader in-charge, however, told the court that the nodal officer had not passed an allocation order for the districts and blamed the central government and pharma companies for the shortage of the drug.

In response, the high court asked the state government to come up with the details of the allocation of the antiviral drug among districts, the backlog of vials from pharmaceutical companies and the steps taken to procure the drug from the seven pharmaceutical companies by Friday.

The judges also reiterated its previous order of finalising district-wise allotment in a just and equitable manner and asked the nodal officer to also report if pharma companies were deliberately dragging their feet on supplying Remdesivir to the state or particular districts.

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