Union Minister Piyush Goyal said on Sunday that state governments should control the growing demand for medical oxygen as the country witnesses the huge spike in COVID-19 cases. Goyal's comments have now drawn strong criticism from Congress.
"State governments should keep demand (for medical oxygen) under control. Demand-side management is as important as supply-side management. Containing Covid-19 spread is the responsibility of state governments and they should fulfil this responsibility," Goyal had said.
Hitting back at the Minister, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, saying, "How stupid Piyush ji!! Oxygen demand is need-based. How can it be kept in control? From day one all Doctors were saying that the only treatment of COVID-19 is through oxygen supply. The Centre has failed to plan for an emergency. As they have failed on all fronts to deal with COVID-19 virus."
Congress' Manish Tiwari also slammed Goyal saying that it is ‘morally repugnant to play blame games at a time when people are dying. "Piyush Goyal this passing the buck with great respect is morally repugnant, especially when people are dying my friend. Not expected from a UOI Cabinet Minister,” said Tiwari in a tweet. Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ‘warn’ his Minister against issuing ‘insensitive’ remarks and allow states to coordinate with the centre in a better way.
I condemn this insensitive statement of Mr. Piyush Goyal in the difficult time of the Covid pandemic. State governments need Oxygen for patients admitted to their hospitals, not for their private use. https://t.co/C46l1Rl6qd— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) April 18, 2021
I appeal to the Hon'ble Prime Minister, Mr. @narendramodi ji, to give warning to the ministers to not issue such insensitive statement so that states can coordinate in a better way with the centre. And people in distress do not suffer mentally because of it.— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) April 18, 2021
Speaking on ways to meet the oxygen supply demands across the country, Piyush Goyal had said, "After an elaborate meeting, the central government did mapping along with 12 state governments on various requirements and decided to distribute 6,177 metric tonnes of oxygen to states."
"Except for nine sectors, supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers will be prohibited from April 22 as a temporary measure. This has been done to ensure adequate supply of oxygen to hospitals," he added. Of the shortlisted states, Maharashtra has been allocated 1500 MT, Delhi 350 MT and Uttar Pradesh 800.
The Centre on Sunday banned the supply of the gas for industrial purposes except in nine specific areas and ramped up the installation of 162 PSA plants in health facilities across the country. Meanwhile, the Railways announced special trains to transport the life-saver.