Adequate supply of oxygen for critically ill Covid patients, whose numbers continue to rise in this massive second surge, has emerged at the heart of saving lives. But alas! Both the Central and state governments — indulging in ugly political bickering during this national calamity — have abjectly failed the country in fast-tracking the harnessing of the money sanctioned for setting up oxygen plants in hospitals in the past one year. While patients gasp for oxygen, they indulge in such excuses as vendors backing out, hospital site-unpreparedness or non-allocation of funds.
- Also read: When govt fails its people
- Covid shadow over Centre-state equations
- Learn lessons to make system pandemic-ready
The precious time squandered after the Centre’s declaration of installing plants in 162 government hospitals across the country, for which around Rs 202 crore was allocated last year, has, sadly, come at a dear cost. The authorities concerned have blood on their hands as victims rapidly succumb to the virus at heartbreaking rates for want of the life-saving gas. Punjab, reeling under one of the highest fatality rates, has been able to set up only one of the three plants sanctioned for the three government medical colleges. Even in that lone consolation spot — Faridkot — it is more of a better-late-than-never scene as it became functional just last month. Utter apathy is to the fore in Haryana as none of its six plants planned have seen the light of day. Nationwide, only 33 of the 162 hospitals promised to be equipped with the inhouse oxygen generation were successful in the attempt to be ready to deal with the imminent second wave. While Assam boasts of preparing eight plants, Delhi’s tally is just one out of the eight sanctioned.
That a lackadaisical attitude and red tape should have besieged a plant that requires just around a month to be established and costs merely Rs 1.25 crore, is criminal. In fact, if there is a will, it can be made running in as little as 72 hours. This is exemplarily shown by a dairy cooperative at Banaskantha in Gujarat. Not only did Banas Dairy quickly marshal resources to set up a plant, but also it is working on two more for the district to be fully self-reliant.