The Central government led by Bhartiya Janata party has refused to accept the request made by Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for private firms to commercially import liquid medical oxygen from Pakistan to fulfil the huge demand of oxygen supply to help India fight and treat Covid-19 patients more quickly.
The Punjab government discloses this in a press release that it tried reaching out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah requesting to seek immediate allocation of 50 metric tonnes of oxygen and 20 more tankers, as the limit of daily new Covid-19 cases in Punjab has reached over 7500 with 173 deaths reportedly.
Punjab is located at the Indo-Pak border observed the first case of Covid-19, dominated with the variant of the virus first seen in the UK, in the second wave of the pandemic in India.
The letter that was sent to PM and HM, written by the CM of Punjab said that there is an urgency to import the required quantity of oxygen as the state had over 10, 000 patients on oxygen supply and it should be compensated as soon as possible.
The letter asserted that the state cannot increase the number of level 2 and level 3 beds as the state is not receiving the proper quantity of allocated life-saving oxygen.
The press statement further highlighted that, “The state was facing the prospect of a shortage of oxygen beds, pointing out that Central government had expressed its inability to even allow Punjab’s local industry to undertake commercial import from Pakistan through the Wagah-Attari Border, which is geographically proximate”.
It also stated that “despite being given assurances that adequate supply would be ensured to us from alternate sources, I regret to point out that this has not happened”.
Punjab Government had been making efforts to get Central Government’s consent to make ways for the ‘oxygen corridor’ from Pakistan as the healthcare conditions are deteriorating in the state due to sudden spike in Covid-19 cases since April.
“The CM told us that he has been taking up the matter with Union Home Ministry and Union Minister of External Affairs. But he has not got a positive response yet. If we get this oxygen, we will bear the financial burden on our own. This is an emergent need to save the people of the state,” The Express quoted Jakhar, as saying.
However, the Central Government rejected the proposal of the ‘oxygen corridor’ from Lahore as they refused to take help offered by Islamabad’s Edhi Foundation from Pakistan.
It is to be noted that Pakistan had extended multiple proposals to provide ventilators, Bi-PAP, digital X-ray machines, PPEs and ambulances to help India to fight prevailing coronavirus but India has not responded to either of these offers.