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Balbir Sidhu asks Akalis, AAP to ‘gherao’ Modi’s house

CHANDIGARH (Gurpreet) : Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu today lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party for their theatrics asking them to stage their dharnas outside the residence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose government was discriminating against Punjab. “If you have guts and courage, better gherao the Prime Minister’s house and not waste my and your time here”, he challenged them.

Referring to the dharnas staged by the two parties outside his residence on Sunday and today, Sidhu said, the two parties were fighting a battle for survival and were desperately competing to outdo each other. He said, both the parties have lost their relevance in the state and Mohali in particular, where the Akali Dal drew a complete blank in the recently concluded urban bodies elections.

On the issue of supplying vaccines to the private hospitals, the minister said, it was a government decision taken in good faith to make vaccines available and accessible to all those who needed it and could afford it but were not fulfilling the eligibility criteria according to the government of India norms, particularly thousands of students who needed to go abroad but could not go as they were not vaccinated.

Questioning the GOI guidelines, he said, earlier it had capped the charges to be taken by the private hospitals as maximum of Rs.100, but now the GoI has left it open to the private hospitals to charge as much as they want.

Asserting that the Akalis and the AAP should spend their time, energies and resources in Delhi and prevail upon the government of India, not to discriminate with Punjab, just because it is a Congress government here. “But I know you cannot do that as Sukhbir and other Akalis are too scared of Modi and AAP and Kejriwal are the ‘B’ team of the BJP”, he remarked.

Giving details as to how Punjab had been grossly discriminated against, Sidhu said, both in terms of vaccines and oxygen, Punjab was accorded step-motherly treatment.

The Minister disclosed that against the order for 30 lac Covishield vaccine placed by the state with the Serum Institute of India, only 4,29 lac doses were provided. He said, apart from paying Rs.18.27 cr. for 5.43 lac vaccine doses, the state government has paid Rs.22.88 cr. as advance for procurement of 6.88 lac vaccine doses which are yet to be received.

He asked them as why they were not questioning the dual price policy for vaccine – Rs.150 for GoI and Rs.300 for the state governments, which even the Supreme Court of India had questioned

The Minister pointed out, the BJP ruled states were having huge vaccine supplies with them and on top of the list was Uttar Pradesh with 25 lac vaccine doses in their stock followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

He said, in strong contrast, the GoI never gave the state its due allocation of vaccines.

Sidhu advised the Akali and AAP leaders, that if they were really concerned about Punjab and the Punjabis, they should raise the matter with the government of India instead of wasting their and his time in Punjab.

He disclosed that the Government of India (GoI) allocated only 126 MT oxygen to Punjab which was reduced to a meagre 86 MT within few days. He said, after repeated requests, the allocation was revised to 137 MT on 24 th April and 195 MT on 29 th April but the allocation was made from far-off places like Bokaro and Hazira. He said the GOI did not even provide tankers to the state as against a demand of 50 oxygen tankers, only four were provided. Similarly against a requirement of 5750 oxygen cylinders Punjab only got 550 oxygen cylinders.

He said, of the 340 oxygen concentrators, which were already far less than the actual requirement, given by the GoI 150 had been recalled as these were found faulty.

He said, the state of its own procured more than 4000 oxygen concentrators apart from getting donations from Philanthropists.

The Minister said, the state was ready to install two PSA medical oxygen plants at Amritsar and Patiala Medical Colleges in December, 2020 but the GoI failed to get the oxygen plants installed because the vendors selected by the GoI backed out.

He said the ventilators given by the GoI under PM-CARES were not installed for months, as these were found to be faulty and were not repaired by the GoI and 100 ventilators provided by one company are of no use since they are of inferior quality.

Sidhu said, despite repeated requests from the state government, GoI did not allocate adequate doses of Inj. Tocilizumab which was very helpful for saving lives of the critically-ill COVID patients.

In addition, drugs required for management of Black Fungus have not been imported by the GoI in time and in adequate quantity as a result we are finding it difficult to treat Black Fungus patients, he added.

He said the state requested for 200 Paediatric ventilators but there was no response from the GoI.

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