STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Former Minister and senior Congress leader Raman Bhalla amidst all-round criticism of the Centre’s alleged unpreparedness to contain what is now almost a tidal wave of fresh COVID-19 cases hit out at the Narendra Modi-led Centre for restricting the autonomy of the states at a time when they are required to take emergency measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.“India’s first case of COVID-19 was detected on 30-01-2020. India’s first vaccine shot was administered on 16-01-2021. Between the two dates, and thereafter, there is a saga of tragedy, incompetence and colossal mismanagement,” he said.What transpired was the gross unpreparedness and avoidable adhocism on part of the Modi government in foreseeing, evaluating and managing the crisis,” he alleged . He added that the constructive suggestions of the opposition are met with attacks by none other than union ministers. No Thinking, No Planning”, attacking the Centre of stoking emotions to deal with the pandemic but refraining from taking concrete steps to handle the crisis. At every step, the central government’s response was totally inadequate. Worse, the central government did not release sufficient funds to the state governments to fight the worst medical emergency that the country had faced. Under the circumstances, cash-strapped state governments did their best to mobilise doctors, nurses, health workers, testing kits, hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, etc., to fight the pandemic.He alleged that the Centre had failed to rapidly scale up the production and supply of the two approved vaccines in India by providing sufficient funds and other concessions.Demanding that as a preliminary measure, Bhalla said that the Centre should free “all equipments, instruments, medicines and support required to prevent and treat Covid-19” of the mandatory 12% GST imposition.“Even basic equipment like Oxymeters and life saving critical equipment like ventilators are subjected to 20% GST. In the current state of affairs, this is inhuman and untenable,” he said.The current COVID-19 wave is worrying and people need to take all precautions and follow protocols, Bhalla said.“In the past one year, speedy action was not taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in a planned manner. The fight was not fought with joint efforts of everyone. “Now, the novel coronavirus has returned after changing its form, due to which the situation has become grim. Now, we have to take benefit of our past experience, and soon control the phase-2 of COVID-19, so that its spread can be curtailed. It is good that anti-COVID vaccine is available now, and the vaccination has to be effectively done,” Bhalla said.Bhalla further claimed that government is mostly talking about ‘stringent measures’, ‘saving lives from COVID-19’, all in such terms that only scholars with the government at the helm of affairs can speak or understand. People understand differently.For example, people understand that it is beyond the capacity of the government to provide vaccines to all, which the government tried to conceal by saying ‘vaccination isn’t open to all but only to those who need it”. People think, if there is “vaccine hesitancy”, provide the doses to those who are willing or want it. The government said the “aim is not to inculcate all those who want to get vaccinated”.
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