21 Jul 2021: Opposition fires back at Centre over 'no oxygen death' comment
The central government is drawing fire from the Opposition for its controversial statement in the Parliament's Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. The Centre had said that no state/union territory reported deaths of COVID-19 patients due to oxygen shortage during the second wave. When the second wave peaked in May, India was running short of medical oxygen and hospital beds, and COVID-19 deaths spiked.
Criticism: 'Centre may soon say there was no pandemic'
Leaders of Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre over the oxygen death statement. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said, "It's completely false to say no one died due to oxygen crisis. Why were hospitals making desperate appeals every day at the High Court? The Centre may soon say there was no pandemic."
Criticism: Centre trying to hide its flaws, says Delhi Deputy CM
Jain said the Centre dismissed an Oxygen Audit Committee to assess such deaths and provide compensation. The Centre is trying to hide its flaws, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said. He described government policies as "a disaster." Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut said those who lost their loved ones due to oxygen shortage should file a case against the government for its controversial statement.
Quote: Aghast at doublespeak, says BJP Minister
Meanwhile, Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi responded in a tweet saying, "Mr. Sanjay Raut, I am aghast at the doublespeak of double defaulters, Shiv Sena and Congress." "Please provide the number of deaths in the state of Maharashtra due to oxygen shortage to the central government and also to the press. (The) same logic applies to Delhi, which was the epicenter," Lekhi added.
Recent news: What has the government said on COVID-19 deaths?
Minister of State for Health Bharati Praveen Pawar informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, "No deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported." Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told the Parliament, "Prime Minister repeatedly told the states...deaths have to be registered, there's no reason to hide. It's the responsibility of the states. We keep a record of data provided by the states."
Context: What happened during India's second wave?
During the second wave, reports from across India mentioned a critical shortage of medical oxygen at several hospitals. For instance, over 80 people died at a state-run medical facility in Goa over five days in May. Social media was abuzz with calls for oxygen cylinders and concentrators and black market sales had also gone up. In April and May, 1.7 lakh deaths were reported.
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