NEW DELHI: Slamming the Centre over its handling of the second wave of COVID-19 infections, senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily on Saturday alleged there is a "total collapse of governance" and an "absence of a national strategy" for providing medical essentials such as hospital beds, oxygen and ventilators to combat the pandemic.
Asserting that there is a need to treat the current scenario as a war-like situation, Moily alleged there is no proper policy on oxygen allocation to states for combating the emerging situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country hard and there are numerous hot spots in the country in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the former Union minister said.
In a statement, he also said, the second wave has also hit the rural areas in its worst form.
"It is quite shocking that the Government of India and many of the states are quite insensitive and totally unprepared both in the first and the second wave. The third wave is just knocking at the doors. The third wave, it is said by experts, will be targeting children," Moily claimed.
Hitting out at the Centre, Moily said no national policy has been worked out or any strategy for providing beds, supply of oxygen, ICU beds, ventilators and even basic medicines to combat the dreaded pandemic.
"The present requirement of oxygen is yet to be met, forget about creating buffer stocks. Nothing is done to end oxygen shortage. There is no proper policy for oxygen allocation to states to combat the emerging situation," he alleged.
The Congress leader said the time has come to call the services of the defence forces for building the requisite infrastructure on a war footing.
All the oil companies also may be geared to produce oxygen, the former petroleum minister said.
"The Prime Minister should have been the commander in such a situation and led the battle against the pandemic from the front. Instead, he has left the position to his bureaucrats. He and his home minister took the command of the political battle in the elections," Moily said, referring to the poll campaigning in the assembly elections held recently in four states and a Union territory.
"Universal immunisation is yet to be announced. The government should come out with insurance coverage for those who cannot be covered under the present immunisation programme with proper medical coverage," the Congress leader demanded.
"There is a total absence of governance and we are proving to the world that our nation is most inefficient in handling the present situation," he said.
The government allowed religious functions and election battles to go on in spite of being aware of the second wave of COVID-19, Moily alleged.
"What is now required is to treat it like a war-like situation. There is a total collapse of governance. Even small amendments like exemption of GST for oxygen concentrators and other medical equipment are not done," he said.
Hospital bed strength should be increased on a war footing along with provision for ICUs and ventilators, and the supply of oxygen and basic medicines should be ensured, Moily said.
There is only one hope on the horizon that the Supreme Court and High Courts are sending the right signals to alert the government and to make it work, he said.
A record 4,187 COVID-19 fatalities in a day took India's death toll to 2,38,270, while 4,01,078 new infections were reported during the period, pushing the tally of cases to 2,18,92,676, according to Union Health Ministry data on Saturday.