‘Govt increased oxygen exports by 700% in Covid-19 pandemic year’: Priyanka Gandhi
Congress leader and the party’s general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said that the Union government increased oxygen exports by 700% in the Covid-19 pandemic year and did not make arrangements for tankers to transport the oxygen within the country.
The remarks by Vadra came after minister of state (MoS) for health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar on Tuesday told Parliament that there were no deaths “specifically reported” by states and Union territories due to lack of oxygen during the second wave of Covid-19 infections. He submitted the reply as a written response to a question by Congress MP KC Venugopal about the subject.
Quoting the Centre’s reply, Vadra tweeted in Hindi, “The deaths happened because - In the pandemic year, the government increased oxygen exports by 700 per cent. The government did not make arrangements for tankers transporting oxygen.”
She further said that the government also ignored the advice of the empowered group and the parliamentary committee and no arrangement was made to provide medical oxygen.
“Ignoring the advice of the Empowered Group and the Parliamentary Committee, no arrangement was made to provide oxygen. No activity was seen in setting up oxygen plants in hospitals,” she said in a subsequent tweet.
In his written reply, MoS Dr Pawar also told Parliament that health is a state subject and all states and UTs in India report the number of Covid-19 infections, deaths to the Union health ministry.
Following this, Congress’ KC Venugopal, who raised the question initially, said that the minister had misled the house. “I am totally surprised. Government has given a reply today that nobody in the country died due to shortage of oxygen. In every state we saw how many patients died due to lack of oxygen. Actually, the minister misled the house. I will move a privilege [motion] against the minister,” Venugopal told reporters earlier on Tuesday.
Congress minister Rahul Gandhi too had criticised the government’s reply. He said that there was a “severe lack of sensitivity and truth” in part of the government.
The demand for medical oxygen swelled during the second wave of infections across many hospitals in the country. The number of daily new infections and the fatalities surged alarmingly between April and June 2021.