Top Opposition leaders ask Narendra Modi government to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to hospitals and undertake mass free vaccination

Statement comes amid more deaths in hospitals in Delhi due to acute scarcity

Top Opposition leaders on Sunday, in a joint statement, asked the government to focus all its attention on ensuring uninterrupted oxygen supply to hospitals across the country and undertake a mass, free vaccination programme against COVID-19.

The statement comes a day after at least 12 critical patients, including a doctor, died on Saturday at Batra Hospital, a leading private hospital in Delhi, because of an oxygen crisis.

Signatories to the statement include former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M.K. Stalin and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

Other signatories include National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CP’’s D. Raja and Tejashwi Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal

In the wake of “uncontrollable” surge of the pandemic across our country, the statement said, “We call upon the Central government to focus all attention in ensuring the uninterrupted flow of oxygen supplies to all hospitals and health centres across the country.”

“We call upon the Central government to immediately launch a free mass vaccination programme across the country. The budgetary allocation of ₹35,000 crore for the vaccination programme must be utilised for this,” the joint statement added.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on the augmenting oxygen requirements from industrial units and adding more oxygen beds to meet the surge in demand.

Apart from the deaths in the Batra Hospital on Saturday because of a shortage in oxygen supply, less than a fortnight ago 20 COVID-19 patients at the Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the national capital died due to lack of oxygen.

So severe has been the oxygen crisis in the capital that many hospitals have had to approach the High Court to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply.

The government had, however, denied that there was any shortage and put it down to a logistics issue in transporting oxygen to places that has seen increased demand for oxygen.

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