MUMBAI: Both the houses of the Maharashtra legislature on Tuesday passed unanimous resolutions asking the Centre to provide a minimum of three crore COVID-19 vaccine doses per month to the state so that a third wave of the pandemic can be avoided and economic activities revived.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, Health Minister Rajesh Tope, who moved the resolutions in both houses, said the state machinery can vaccinate 10 lakh people per day provided doses were available. "With this number, we can vaccinate three crore people in the next two months. Expediting vaccination drive is necessary for the economic revival as well," he said.
As per the resolution, the Union government has so far provided 2,84,39,060 doses and the state has purchased another 25,10,730, while 3,43,82,583 persons have received the jab in the state till now which is the highest in the country.
Maharashtra has so far conducted 4.25 crore tests for coronavirus, of which 61 lakh came out positive while the viral infection has killed 1.23 lakh patients so far, Tope said. There are 1.23 lakh active cases, he pointed out.
"Maharashtra is at the top in the number of infections, deaths and active cases. There are 21 cases of the 'Delta Plus' variant (of coronavirus) and 5,500 cases of mucormycosis (black fungus). This is a serious situation," he said.
The Shiv Sena's Sunil Prabhu said the state should also consider vaccinating (on a priority basis) those from poor sections of society including the homeless people who do not have Aadhaar cards or any other identification document.
Congress MLA and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan attacked the Centre over the high prices of doses and "profiteering". "Who is responsible for the profiteering? No other nation has done this where people have to pay Rs 1,200 per dose. Instead of asking states and municipalities to procure vaccines, the central government should purchase vaccines through a single order for the entire nation and sell them or distribute to the states," Chavan said.
He added that as many as 6.5 crore vaccine doses were exported "when we should have kept them for our own people". Speaking in the Council, Tope said that vaccinating every person was the only way forward. "If we carry out vaccination of 70 to 80 percent of people, it will help create herd immunity in the state," the minister said.
Economic activities have been impacted and if vaccination takes place on a large scale, the burden on the health systems will decrease which will help the government ease the existing `level 3' restrictions, he said.
The government has framed five levels of restrictions, the fifth level being the severest.
Leader of Opposition in the Council Pravin Darekar (BJP) supported the resolution but also said that as Maharashtra is at the top in terms of number of vaccinated persons, the state government should be grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for providing the largest number of doses to the state.