New Delhi: Under attack for allegedly neglecting the Covid19 crisis and focusing more on West Bengal elections and addressing rallies with massive gatherings, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced that he would cancel his visit to the poll-bound state on Friday.
“Tomorrow will be chairing high-level meetings to review the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Due to that, I would not be going to West Bengal,” the Prime Minister tweeted making it clear that now the principal focus of his government is to take the Covid19 challenge head-on and save people’s lives.
Of course, the Prime Minister has been nevertheless holding a series of Covid19 related meetings including with officials, pharma manufacturers and experts.
The central government on Thursday issued a directive under the stringent Disaster Management Act 2005 in the wake of reports that some states ‘blocked supply of medical oxygen’ to other states. The spike in coronavirus cases had created a growing demand for oxygen. The directive has been issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla says that the district magistrate and superintendent of police of the district concerned will be held responsible if there is any violation.
Mr Modi also chaired a high-level meeting to review oxygen supply across the country. The Prime Minister asked the states to act against any hoarding of oxygen and directed officials to ensure that the oxygen supply to various states happens in a smooth, unhindered manner. He called for ‘fixing responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction.
There shall be free movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without any restriction, the central government said. “No authority shall attach the oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas for making supplies specific to any particular district or area,” it said.
Supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those (nine specified industries) exempted by the government, is prohibited from April 22, 2021, and till further orders. Home Secretary Bhalla said the availability of an adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important prerequisite for managing moderate and severe cases of Covid-19.
“Therefore, to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen across the country for the management of Covid-19 patients, in the exercise of powers conferred under the section of the DM Act, the undersigned, in the capacity as chairperson, National Executive Committee, hereby directs the state and Union Territory governments and state and Union Territory authorities to ensure the following measures within their areas of jurisdiction,” the home secretary said.
No restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state and the union territory in which they are located, it said. Nationwide, the Wuhanvirus has so far claimed the lives of 183,000 people.
On Thursday, the number of total cases in India shot up to 15.6 million with 13.5 million recoveries. In Delhi, total casualty figures due to corona has shot up to 12,638. In Maharashtra, the total casualty figures have shot up to 61,343. Karnataka has so far recorded 13,646 deaths followed by Tamil Nadu at 13,205.
The challenge to deal with the pandemic has grown manifold due to related problems like an economic crisis if there is shutdown, shortage of oxygen and even the striking farmers maintaining unreasonable defiance.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday thanked the centre for enhancing Delhi’s quota for oxygen.