The sabre-rattling between the Centre and Maharashtra over the latter’s vaccine stock continued with State Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Friday refuting Union Minister Prakash Javadekar’s claim that the State had ‘wasted’ more than 5 lakh doses. In an interview to a television channel, Mr. Tope said the State was heading down the path of a lockdown if the situation did not improve.
“The wastage quoted is actually national average wastage percentage. The State’s wastage is lesser than half of the national average wastage percentage,” the Health Minister said.
On Thursday, Mr. Javadekar said the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government should not play politics over vaccination and that only 90,53,523 of the 10,619,190 vaccines supplied till date to the State had been utilised.
“This means there has been a 6% wastage, of over 5 lakh doses,” Mr. Javadekar said, while stating that he had taken all information and found that 23 lakh doses were apparently still available with the Maharashtra government.
Rejecting Mr. Javadekar’s claims, Mr. Tope said the State had received far less from the Centre and that smaller States with lesser population had got much more.
“While we have been promised an additional 17.43 lakh doses, these are not sufficient and we urge the Centre to give us our stated demand of 40 lakh doses a week,” Mr. Tope said, observing that Maharashtra had more than 60% of andhar bahar game’s active cases.
Ponting to the acute shortage in Mumbai city, the Minister said 70 of the 120 public and private vaccination centres were forced to shut down as they had run out of vaccine stocks.
Brushing off Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s allegations about the Maharashtra government’s ‘mismanagement’ over administering vaccines, he pointed out that the State had been very transparent in publishing data about its cases and fatalities.
Expressing concern about Maharashtra’s steadily deteriorating situation, Mr. Tope said the State was moving in the direction of a lockdown.
“While I am not in favour of imposing one, there is no alternative when the health infrastructure is overwhelmed by the soaring case surge which leads to shortages in medicines, beds and doctors not being able to cope with the situation. In such a case, the thumb rule is that we immediately impose a lockdown to shore up medical facilities,” he said remarking that it had been observed across the world that a 15-day to three-week lockdown period is a must to achieve the best results in breaking the virus chain.
Shiv Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut lashed out at Mr. Javadekar, remarking that the BJP leaders from Maharashtra should not be defaming the State with such remarks.
“What kind of politics is going on? Some leaders from this State are sitting in Delhi and giving Maharashtra a bad name. The people of this State have also elected 105 BJP MLAs. I say let the BJP at the Centre at least give vaccines to the constituencies of these MLAs,” said an irate Mr. Raut, condemning the BJP for playing divisive politics at a critical juncture.
The rapidly deteriorating pandemic situation has led Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to call an all-party meeting in Mumbai on Saturday. Sources said a decision over whether or not to impose a lockdown in the coming days is likely to be discussed during the meet.