Taking a jibe at Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, who promoted ‘Bhabhiji papad’ to fight the coronavirus infection, the Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, “Maharashtra has done good in controlling the pandemic and nobody was cured by eating the papad”.
In July, Meghwal promoted ‘Bhabiji papad’, claiming that it was made from such ingredients which could help in building antibodies against Covid-19.
Raut, while attacking Meghwal said, “Maharashtra has actively controlled the spread, and Dharavi is the best example, which is the largest slum in the country. Many ministers are infected, a former cricketer-minister Chetan Chauhan has died. There should be no blame game on the issue and we should fight this pandemic together.”
Participating in the debate on the Covid-19 situation in the country, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel said the state is being targeted unduly and this is the time to fight together.
The opposition attack was triggered after BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe targeted the Maharashtra government on the Covid issue.
Congress leader Anand Sharma initiated the discussion on Wednesday on the statement of the Union Health Minister. Sharma targeted the government over the imposition of ‘sudden lockdown’ in the country and the government claims that this prevented nearly 14 to 29 lakh Covid-19 cases.
“Yesterday, the health minister said that this decision (lockdown) could prevent approximately 14 to 29 lakh Covid-19 cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths. This House must be informed what is the scientific basis of this and how they have reached this conclusion,” Sharma said. He said there was a very wide gap in this.
Sharma also questioned why the government had no data on the migrant workers. He also said had the facilities like the quarantine centres been in place in cities for the migrant workers, their migration could have been restricted, and thus the pandemic could have been contained from spreading into rural areas.
They love some people: Sharad Pawar on I-T notices
Taking a swipe at the Centre, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said the Income Tax Department has sent notices to certain leaders as “they love some people”.
Pawar, along with his daughter Supriya Sule, MP, besides Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray have been served notices by the I-T Department seeking clarifications on their polls affidavits filed in the previous elections.
“Yes, I have also received it (the notice). They love some people,” the 79-year old Maratha strongman said with a grin, speaking with media persons in Mumbai.
“I have got the I-T Department notice about my election affidavits. On the directions of the Election Commission of India, the I-T Department has sent the notice on the poll affidavits for 2009, 2014, and 2020,” Pawar said.
Incidentally, the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress are in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, and two top leaders each of the two parties in the alliance have been served with the IT notices.
Announcing a day’s token fast in support of the suspended Opposition MPs, Pawar on Tuesday wondered why the government was in such a hurry to pass the Farm Bills.
“I have decided to abstain from food and fast today in solidarity with the protesting MPs agitation,” said Pawar, a Member of the Rajya Sabha, which witnessed a massive ruckus in the past two days followed by a boycott by the Opposition parties.
Though well-intentioned, Pawar said he had never seen Bills being passed in such a manner and questioned the haste, especially when the MPs had questions on the Farm Bills.
“Members wanted to ask more questions on the Bills. But, it appears they (the government) did not want any discussion. When the MPs did not get the response, they came to the well of the House,” Pawar pointed out.
He said the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House had not adhered to the rules and “the Rajya Sabha members were expelled for expressing their opinion,” said the NCP chief.
The Opposition has alleged that the Deputy Chairman Harivansh — who was in the chair on Sunday — helped the government rush the Bills through the Upper House despite lacking the numbers and rejecting the Opposition parties’ demands for detailed discussions on the Farm Bills.
Maharashtra’s plan to ‘ration’ oxygen attracts flak from doctors
In a bizarre move, the Maharashtra government has abruptly decided to ‘ration’ medical oxygen for patients in Covid-19 public and private hospital wards/ICUs, kicking up a row between the state and the medical fraternity.
Doctors in the state have condemned the move as “unprecedented in the world”, “terrible, horrible, abominable”, something that could lead to “a sharp spike in Covid fatalities”, with a veiled warning that they may be forced to abdicate the responsibility of treating Corona patients and “it will be better if the government runs all the private hospitals on its own”.
As per a September 18 circular issued by Principal Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas, the order was triggered by a very high consumption of Oxygen — more than thrice the national average — in comparison to the number of patients in Covid oxygen wards or intensive care units.
Vyas said that the present consumption of medical Oxygen is above 600 tonne per day and at the rapid rate of growth, there are fears that this may outstrip the manufacturing capacity in the state after a few days.
“The Government of India has expressed serious concern about the quantum of Oxygen being used in Maharashtra per day considering the number of patients who are on Oxygen,” Vyas said grimly.
Adding to the woes is the fact that a figure of around 1,08,000 patients — who have been discharged — has not been updated on the government records owing to a discrepancy in manual tabulation.
This implies that a lesser number of discharges and lower recovery rate is shown for Maharashtra, but if this figure was accounted for, then it would point to nearly 15 per cent of all patients getting Oxygen treatment in the state – much higher than the national average of 5-6 per cent, he pointed out.
“So, it is clear that there is no judicious use of Oxygen,” said Vyas’ unexpected rap, adding there was a tendency in private hospitals to put patients on Oxygen for duration more than necessary for ‘commercial reasons’ and such activities need to be scrupulously monitored.
Clamping down on hospitals, the government has now ordered that Oxygen consumption in wards must be limited to 7 litres per minutes and 12 litres per minute in ICUs.
All hospitals have been directed to comply with these restrictions by conducting a consumption to prevent wastage of medical Oxygen due to leaks, etc.
Maharashtra Indian Medical Association (IMA) President Avinash Bhondwe minced no words by terming the order as “the biggest and most cruel assault” by the administration at the expense of a patient’s life.
“This is another direct battering on the professional autonomy of clinicians, an unwarranted questioning on the clinical acumen of doctors. It’s an attempt to cover up bad governance of supply of Oxygen by such an unprofessional and unethical notification,” Bhondve told IANS.
He said that there are some patients who would need 20 litres/minute and some even upto 80 litres/minute, known as high flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) and keeping such limits of 7-12 litres was “absolutely absurd”, and the move was taken without even consulting the Covid Special Task Force set up by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
IMA State Secretary Pankaj Bandarkar said: “There can’t be anything more ridiculous, insulting and derogatory to the entire medical profession which is fighting the deadly Covid pandemic and have dedicated their service to humanity.”
An ex-office bearer and IMA Member Parthiv Sanghvi said all medicos are up in arms against this order since it could have a bearing on whether a patient survives or dies.
Bhondve said that merely setting up jumbo Covid hospitals is not enough as it’s the other medical infrastructure and doctors which ultimately help cure the patient, but “if anything happens to the patients, doctors get beaten up”.
Despite repeated attempts by IANS, Health Minister Rajesh Tope and Vyas were not available for their comments on the matter.
Export ban protest: Maharashtra NCP sends onions as gift to PM, Governor
Even as the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress continued to protest against the Centre’s ban on onion exports, the NCP’s Women’s Wing on Friday sent onions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Women workers from all 36 districts in Maharashtra collected onions and sent them to Modi and Koshyari, said NCP Women’s Wing President Rupali Chakankar.
“Our women collected onions despite financial constraints and sent parcels of 5 kg each to the PM and the Governor. From Pune, we have dispatched the onion consignments by India Post. In other districts, our members handed these to Collectors or other officials to be forwarded to the two leaders,” Chakankar told IANS.
She said the onion parcels would convey the sentiments of onion farmers who were crying because the export ban had hit their livelihood badly, besides causing huge market fluctuations.
“The PM celebrated his birthday on September 17. Today, we sent him a belated birthday gift to make him understand the tears our poor farmers are shedding,” Chakankar added.
Asked why the onion parcels were sent to Raj Bhavan, she said that the Governor had time to meet all and sundry who speak ill of Maharashtra, but had no time to hear out onion farmers to acknowledge their problems in these difficult times.
“After spending so much time with anybody who criticises Maharashtra, its leaders and the Mumbai Police, the Governor should spare some time to meet our poor farmers and convey their plight to the Centre,” the NCP leader said.
Pointing to the gravity of the situation, she said that around 500,000 tonnes of onions were stuck at Mumbai ports due to the ban, causing a loss of Rs 1,250 crore to the farmers and others.
“Who’s responsible for all this? Will the BJP-led government compensate them for their losses?” she asked.
The NCP leader said that after a series of calamities like drought, floods, unseasonal rains and lockdown, the central government has brought another catastrophe on the suffering farmers. She demanded that the export ban be revoked forthwith.
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