Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj wears a deserted look during the Covid-induced lockdown on Sunday.(PTI)
Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj wears a deserted look during the Covid-induced lockdown on Sunday.(PTI)

PM Modi takes stock of Covid-19 crisis, strategy in 4 states

Modi holds talks with Punjab, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Karnataka CMs; Amarinder asks for boost to O2 quota.
UPDATED ON MAY 10, 2021 05:06 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spoke to the chief ministers of Punjab, Karnataka, Bihar, and Uttarakhand on the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease crisis, with the allocation of oxygen and strategy to check the pandemic topping the agenda, officials familiar with the matter said.

During the telephonic conversation, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh urged the Centre to increase the state’s oxygen quota. Punjab has been battling a surge in Covid cases and recorded 8,436 cases and 191 deaths on Sunday, taking its total tally to 442,125 and 10,506.

Amarinder asked Modi to raise the state’s total quota of oxygen to 300 metric tonne (MT) amid an increase in hospitalisation, officials said.

An official statement said the chief minister informed Modi that “the state has a high mortality count, and hospitalisation in Level 2 and 3 facilities (both government and private) has seen a sharp surge over the past three weeks, pushing up the oxygen demand”.

The CM informed Modi that from 197 MT on April 22, the demand for oxygen had risen to 295.5 MT in the state on May 8 with the shortage of O2 tankers making the situation worse, the statement said.

The chief minister hoped that the Centre would take immediate steps to supplement oxygen supplies and ensure vaccine doses were sent on priority to help the Punjab government effectively manage the situation, an official statement said. The state is set to start the vaccination of those in the 18-44 year age group from Monday.

Also read | Regulate supply of Covid-19 vaccine shots: Delhi CM Kejriwal writes to health minister Harsh Vardhan

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said that Punjab health secretary Hussan Lal, in a letter to the additional secretary in the Union health ministry noted that while the state has taken several steps to ensure judicious use of oxygen by hospitals, in line with the advisory of government of India, the growing demand for the life-saving gas necessitated an increase in allocation.

The Prime Minister has been holding a series of talks with the CM and lieutenant governors across the country to assess the ground situation and take stock of the states’ demands.

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa apprised Modi of the Covid situation in the state during their conversation, officials said. “They spoke about Covid-19 situation in the state and took stock of the situation,” said one of the two officials at chief minister’s office.

Karnataka, which remains firmly in the grip of Covid, recorded 47,930 new cases on Sunday.

On May 5, while hearing a public interest litigation, the Karnataka high court noted that the projected requirement of oxygen in the state was 1,471 MT per day as on April 30, 2021, whereas the Centre had agreed to enhance it from 862 MT to only 962 MT per day. The high court then directed the Karnataka government to submit a representation to the Union government while ordering that till this representation was considered, the Centre will supply 1200 MT of oxygen per day to the state. The Centre challenged this order in the Supreme Court but the top court turned down its plea on May 7.

Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat, who received criticism from health experts after the state held mahakumbh amid the pandemic, said he updated the PM about the Covid situation the state. Uttarakhand recorded 5,890 fresh infections and 180 deaths on Sunday. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up for an update on Covid cases in Uttarakhand. I apprised him with the present situation,” Rawat said in a tweet.

Till late on Sunday, the office of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar did not issue a statement about the matters discussed between the PM and Kumar during the telephonic conversation over the pandemic.

“ The PM had talked with the CM on the Covid situation in the state. There were discussions on it ,”said a senior bureaucrat, wishing anonymity.

Principal secretary to the chief minister, Deepak Kumar, did not comment about the meeting, or what issues were discussed.

However, in a series of tweets later on Sunday, the CM exhorted people to come together to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic by adopting appropriate behaviour and extending support to the government. He also thanked the frontline workers for patiently working hard in this times of pandemic.The state recorded 11,259 fresh infections and 67 deaths on Sunday.

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