The ugly face of opposition parties vis-à-vis their campaign on inflated oxygen shortage and deaths came into the light and were exposed in the Lower House of Parliament.
New Delhi: The government has lashed out at the opposition parties for their oxygen-shortage campaign politics and maintained that only Punjab had spoken about four such deaths out of 19 states that responded to the query.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in Lok Sabha on Friday (December 3) that the opposition parties were playing politics over oxygen shortage during the second wave of COVID-19 infections earlier this year and some campaigns sustained even later.
"…. Some did not stop politicizing the issue even during this crisis. They approached the courts, showing inflated oxygen requirements and elicited orders for more supplies. Even deaths due to lack of oxygen were politicized," the minister lamented.
He said the central government sought data and reports from states on the matter, and only the Congress-run Punjab government responded that there were four "suspected cases" of such deaths. But a probe into them was also launched.
"Nineteen states responded, and it's only Punjab, which stated in writing that four suspected deaths were there and that was being investigated. We made it public. But still, politics is happening," he said.
He specified that, among others, such queries from centres were sought from states such as Odisha, Telangana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
Moreover, he said, "Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) had said at the chief ministers' meeting that there was no need to hide the number of deaths due to the shortage of oxygen shortage. The numbers should be reported," the minister said.
He said the centre believes in transparency, and thus the central government made "all possible efforts" to ensure the availability of oxygen and increase its production following a rise in demand during the second wave of the pandemic.
"Sadly, even in such a situation, many people did not refrain from playing politics… I appeal, take note of our honest efforts. This is not a subject of politics," he said in reply to a question.
Later, during the discussion on Covid's situation, he said: "In various states 1225 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants are already functional; and 3829 PSA plants are currently being established. I have begun taking certificates of successful installation from the states so that we know for sure the plants are working well."