MUMBAI: With more than 5734 people tested positive and over 166 deaths, a Centre versus state fight has started while amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The central government issued a circular asking state government not to procure any safety kits like PPE, mask, gloves and ventilators as the procurement will be done only by the centre which will later be supplied to the respective state governments.
The circular dated April 2, 2020, was issued by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to all state governments and union territories. The under-secretary of government India, GK Pillai who had signed the circular stating it as urgent.
The circular reads 'as per the Disaster Management Act 2005, the productions, procurement, import and distributions of essential types of equipment like a mask, PPE, gloves, ventilators etc will be done by the empowered group of the central government.'
'The state government has to put forward their demands of crucial medical devices for COVID-19 management like personal protection equipment, N95 mask, ventilators rationally and fortnightly demand to the central government. The state governments will not go for the procurement of these essential medical types of equipment that will be done centrally by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and then it will distribute to states. The state should ensure distribution of this given equipment at the field functionary,' reads the circular.
“We were aghast to see this circular by the central government. In the federal structure, health and internal security is the state subject. But BJP led authoritarian government wants to throttle the right of the states by using disaster management act,” said senior minister of Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi.
In Maharashtra, several local government hospitals have been demanding safety equipment for a long time to the government. However, the government ensured them that once they get it from the Centre, it will be released.
In Maharashtra, a total of 1297 coronavirus positive cases were reported and over 80 deaths. In Mumbai alone, 774 tested positive for COVID-19.
Due to the non-availability of safety medical equipment like N95 mask, gloves and suit, the large numbers of health workers and doctors are also getting infected with the coronavirus.
'We are fighting against the world deadly virus without any safety equipment. The doctors and health workers who are soldiers in this global do not even have proper medical equipment, then how we expect that the doctors will fight the war and defeat the virus enemy,' said a senior doctor who refused to name.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray in his state address admitted that there are shortages of medical equipment in the state, but was confident about the central government help.
The senior health official said that they have almost placed the purchasing these health equipment order and about to get delivery as well, but the central government forced them to cancel these order at the eleventh hour.