An oxygen tanker leaked while it was being filled at Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik on Wednesday afternoon. Soon, concerned officials had reached the spot to contain the leak and control the situation. Nevertheless, 24 serious COVID-19 patients who were admitted to the hospital and were on ventilator support succumbed to death gasping for oxygen. Even after such a mishap, nobody is asking who is to be held responsible for this tragedy.
As per reports, the ventilators had stopped working for at least 30 minutes. And the Nashik District Collector had stated that the patients lost their lives due to oxygen deprivation. The doctors and other hospital staffers along with the patients’ family members tried saving the helpless and saw them dying right in front of their eyes.
Now, imagine for a second if this incident would have occurred in say, Gujarat. All the leftists and so-called liberals would have come out to hound the BJP and the PM. Already, amid a deadly pandemic, everything bad which happens is associated with the BJP and Narendra Modi at the drop of a hat. The leftists leave no stone unturned to accuse the Centre of things like lack of oxygen supply, beds, ventilators or drugs like Remdesivir in a state. They will not talk about the responsibility of the Chief Minister towards the affairs of a state concerned if it is a non-BJP ruled one. They will not even whimper about the terrible state of affairs in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh or West Bengal because that won’t suit their political agenda. Why aren’t we witnessing scathing comments coming in from the Lutyens media houses? Why doesn’t Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra question Uddhav Thackeray?
One doesn’t intend to say that the Nashik oxygen leak tragedy is Thackeray’s fault. What needs to be understood here is that this is not the right time to play politics. A cabal’s political agenda cannot piggyback on a pandemic where the number of deaths is mounting each moment. This incident hints towards one fact -be it any political party or leaders, all of them need to keep their petty politics aside and work in solidarity to defeat the virus and its adverse effects. If you do not question Thackeray for the health crisis in Maharashtra, stop passing the buck to the Prime Minister for everything adverse under the sun. If you do not want to thank the Centre for its commendable job of lending a helping hand to the states, you have no right to gain political leverage out of those doings and label them as your own!
Coming back to Maharashtra, it continues to be the worst-hit state and is facing an acute shortage of oxygen and its health infrastructure has collapsed. The state has a total of over 60, 000 COVID-19 patients on oxygen support in not only the hospitals but their homes. The lack of oxygen supply has forced many hospitals to stop taking new admissions. Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, “We are anticipating that 15% of currently active cases may need oxygen. As of now, we have arrangements for 1550 MT of oxygen in the state. We are trying to distribute the same. We are also expecting the oxygen which the government of India will import”.
And Maharashtra Health Secretary, Dr Pradeep Vyas advised, “We need restraint on oxygen utilization to avoid panic. Panic and anxiety increase demand.”
The crux of the matter is petty politics. If every politician shelves it for some time, the state of affairs can be improvised with little difficulty. What can a collective effort do? Let us take stock of the Maharashtra situation once again to answer this question. Maharashtra is reportedly receiving 50 MT of liquid medical oxygen each day from Chhattisgarh and another 50 MT a day from Gujarat. Reliance Industries Ltd. is supplying 100 MT of oxygen from Jamnagar to Maharashtra at no cost. JSW Steel is supplying 185 tonnes of oxygen daily from its Dolvi plant to the state government.
Apart from this, corporate giants like Reliance, TATA, Jindal Steel, Arcelor Mittal, Nippon Steel, and SAIL have come forward to supply medical oxygen to states in need of the same. To reduce the shortage, the Centre’s Empowered Group-2 has decided to divert over 17,000 MT of liquid medical oxygen to the 12 worst-hit states in three phases between April 20- 30. Another commendable initiative by the Railway Ministry is the ‘Oxygen Express’. 7 empty oxygen tankers departed from the Kalamboli goods yard for the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant on Tuesday, kick-starting the same. These tankers will be filled with medical oxygen for Maharashtra and return through the green corridor created for an unhindered supply of oxygen to the state.
As far as the Nashik tragedy is concerned, the state government has announced an independent probe by a seven-member committee into the matter. “If anyone is responsible for the deaths, they will face legal action”, said Rajesh Tope. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also announced compensation of 5 lakh rupees to the families of the dead. The Nashik Municipal Corporation would also give Rs. 5 lakh each to the bereaved families.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author
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