The Central government in its affidavit filed in the suo motu case before the Supreme Court on the COVID-19 crisis, stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is directly involved in the process of oxygen supply to the states.
The affidavit filed by Govind Mohan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, states that the Union of India is fully sensitive to the miseries being faced by citizens during this second wave of COVID crisis and is taking urgent and concrete, and comprehensive steps to mitigate the miseries of the citizens and loss of life during this unprecedented strain on our health infrastructure.
It is submitted that 34,228 ventilators were granted to the states by the Centre last year. During the last 6 months, the exercise of providing ventilators to states has continued as an ongoing process. From October 1, 2021 to date, 8,505 additional ventilators were allocated to states, 8,754 additional ventilators were delivered to states and 10,787 ventilators were installed.
“The Central Government, with active and constant supervision and direct involvement of the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Hon’ble Home Minister, is augmenting the oxygen supply on a war footing evolving and implementing innovative measures,” the affidavit reads.
Central teams were deployed to States/UT from time to time to carry out checks whether tracking and surveillance guidelines were adhered to effectively or not. Additionally, just as screening of passengers as early as January 2020, genome sequencing and analysis was carried out on samples from arriving international travellers under INSACOG laboratories, said the Affidavit.
It further submitted that COVID-19 pandemic was certainly an economic disruption. But the government did not allow it to become a matter of economic distress, especially for the poorer sections of society. This was made possible through the massive Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, under which from food to cash to work, everything was taken to the poor.
The medical oxygen is a critical component in the treatment of COVID affected patients, especially in the second wave. The entire available capacity of oxygen in India was utilised for supply for industrial as well as medical purposes in the form of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO), claimed the Affidavit.
It is also pertinent to note that during the course of VC meetings with the States, it was repeatedly underlined that the indicative mapping framework being developed in consultation with the States and other stakeholders will be continuously reviewed and updated to reflect the emerging scenario of the active COVID cases in the States and the resultant requirement of medical oxygen in the States.
In light of issue of increased demand of Remdesivir and its shortages reported from certain parts of the country, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation [CDSCO] has immediately approved 31 additional manufacturing sites on 12.04.2021 in addition to 22 “manufacturing sites” of these seven manufacturers to enable them to enhance their manufacturing capacity, said the Additional Secretary.
It was laid emphasis that the countries National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy has been built on a systematic and strategic end-to-end approach, proactively building capacity across R&D, Manufacturing and Administration since April 2020. While pushing for scale and speed, it has simultaneously been anchored in the stability necessary to sustainably execute the World’s Largest Vaccination Drive.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said before the Apex Court, “We should all be proud that this issue is being looked into by the Prime Minister and all political parties are coordinating across party line”.
It is submitted that a national plan designedly keeps the said aspects of executive decision making open in order to enable the Government statutory functionaries and all stake holders to take appropriate measures in dynamic and fast developing situations such as the present pandemic , states the Affidavit on the National Plan for handling the COVID-19 crisis.
The Centre further stated that it is making efforts to procure oxygen from all available sources within India and is also importing oxygen from other countries.
In the Affidavit, the Central Government further states the measures taken for COVID-19 testing facilities, imposition of lockdown, benefits for frontline workers, increasing capacity of hospital beds and equipment in hospitals, funding to states.
On April 22, the Supreme Court bench headed by former Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had registered a suo motu case concerning issues arising out of COVID-19 pandemic and the management of the crisis unfolding in various states.
The Apex Court issued notice to the Centre on the issue of supply of oxygen and essential drugs, and a clarification on the vaccination plan of the government and Central power to declare and enforce lockdown.