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The Resource Surge: COVID-19 and Pointing Fingers?

The new 2021 COVID-19 surge has engulfed the Indian masses, with people losing their loved ones and the country’s healthcare system being pushed to its breaking point; the trends seem a gaslighting and blaming figure rather than mature accountability.

Trigger Warning: Covid Trauma

The situation in India has simmered down to a point of the NetherRealm, with a new double mutant of the Coronavirus having hit the country hard. Hospitals are running out of beds, oxygen stocks are hard to hunt for and mortuaries are being brighter and brighter day after day. And then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal got into a minor fracas during the Union government’s video conference with Chief Ministers of States on 23rd April 2021. With a high COVID-19 strain in the NCR, Kejriwal live streamed his interjection at the meeting, desperately calling for help from the Centre, regarding the increasing requirements from the NCR healthcare system. As a stimulus Modi objected to what was happening, mottling it went against the protocol of such closed-door meetings.

At the meeting, Kejriwal informed PM Modi that a big tragedy could happen because of the oxygen shortage in Delhi hospitals and sought the Prime Minister’s intervention; Please sir, we need your guidance. On Thursday, 29th April 2021, the city had logged a positivity rate of 36.24%, the highest since the pandemic reached. Delhi on Saturday, 1st May 2021 added 357 deaths due to COVID-19, the highest ever single-day spike while 24,103 new cases of COVID-19 took the caseload to 1,004,782, according to the health department’s bulletin. Though the number of COVID-19 cases in the NCR has dropped gradually from the last week’s figure of 28,000+ to a figure of 24,000 a day, there is tremendous pressure on the healthcare infrastructure of the National Capital, with the hospitals at their breaking points, shortages of beds, medications and oxygen. The Chief Minister during the lockdown extension announcement on 25th April 2021, furthered, “While have failed to deliver oxygen at some places, in other places we have succeeded… the situation should be under control in the coming few days. Currently, though the Centre has increased Delhi’s oxygen quota again from 480 to 490 metric tons, the access problems remain. The requirement is 700 metric tons and what’s reaching us is 330 to 335 metric tons only.”

https://twitter.com/himantabiswa/status/1385891353842708480?s=20

After the virtual debate with the PM, the social media started boiling up, with tweets and post alleging Kejriwal’s interjections as aimed schedules at politicizing the meeting to give the impression that the Centre was being heavy-handed with the States. Ironically leaders started to take a stance against the so-called mismanagement of the Delhi Government. Not surprisingly the media went on crossing the line of conscience, ultimately ending up fibbing the Delhi government on simple rhetoric around the PSA oxygen plants, and how Kejriwal deliberately impeded their set up? The Union alleges that the Delhi government played an active role in delaying the site readiness for installing eight PSA Oxygen plants.

The Government sources stated to the ANI that to enlarge the medical oxygen capacity of the NCR to treat COVID-19, eight PSA oxygen generation plants are being installed with the support of the PM Cares Fund. Adding the sources also said, “These plants will enhance the capacity of medical oxygen by 14.4 metric tons. Of the eight PSA plants to be installed in Delhi, one was already installed at Burari Hospital, Kaushik Enclave on March 17. Four plants, one each at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Lok Nayak Hospital, Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Rohini and Deepa Chand Bandhu Hospital, Ashok Vihar are expected to be completed by April 30.”

The centre asserts that the government of Delhi deliberately delayed the site readiness despite the weekly reviews since November 2020, alleging that for Ambedkar Nagar Hospital, Dakshinpuri, the site has been readied as late as 19th April, 2021 by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government. Also, the Government alleges that the site readiness certificate of Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra Hospital, Narela has not been submitted by the Delhi government yet. 

A snippet of the live streamed meeting
A snippet of the live streamed meeting

Image Captions: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during the COVID-review conference on Friday.

Image Credits: ANI

Kejriwal in response to this allegation on Sunday, 25th April 2021, stated in a media address that the Central government decided to set up 162 PSA plants all over India and issued tenders for the same in October 2020. Adding to this he said, 

“The plants were to be set up by Union Health Ministry through PM Cares fund, and not a single rupee was given to state governments. All these plants were supposed to have been installed by December 2020 and handed over to state governments. However, the Central government gave the contract for 140 of these plants to a single vendor, who ran away. As a result, across India, not even 10 of these 162 plants have been made operational till date.”

“After multiple follow-ups with the Central government, plants for five hospitals were delivered in early March 2021. Typically, these plants take three to four days for installation. However, once again, the vendor was non-responsive and after multiple follow-ups with the Centre, only one of the five plants has been made operational to date,” added Kejriwal during his address. 

The Delhi government alleged that for the remaining two hospital locations, the plants have not even been received on site. In response to the site readiness allegation by the Center, the government of Delhi stated in an address, “We are shocked to learn that Central government is now making the excuse of site certificate not being available from the Delhi government as a reason for the delay in plants. This has never been brought to Delhi government’s notice and is an outright lie.”

 Kejriwal also added that 7 out of 8 plants in the National Capital Region were set up at the Delhi government Hospitals and one at the Central government hospital in Safdarjung, stating that the PSA plant has not been made operational at even Centre’s own Safdarjung hospital, claiming that the Centre is caught in the web of its lies.

The essence of Democracy, as explained by our PM during the Bengal rallies, is that the governments are expected to take responsibility when actions go wrong. Well, the logic here lies in the fact that you can never equate the atmanirbhar justification in the mass death and chaos of the citizens, you promise to work for, and setting a precedence by brushing away the questions with the pyre ashes. For the people, the God-figure is silent to their prayers, far away from the time of coming out of the shadows of denial and taking responsibility for the chaos, acknowledging the failure.

Read also:

Supreme Court Grills Centre Over Mishandling of The Pandemic

Feature Image Credits: Anadolu Agency

Nirmanyu Chouhan

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