Congress to move privilege motion against Centre over ‘no deaths due to oxygen shortage’ claim


New Delhi: A day after Union Minister of State (MoS) for Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar told the Rajya Sabha that no deaths due to lack of oxygen were specifically reported by states/Union territories during the second wave of COVID-19, Congress has decided to move a privilege motion against the minister.

This was announced by Congress leader KC Venugopal, who accused her of misleading the house over COVID-19 deaths.

Venugopal said, “Government has given a reply that nobody in the country died due to a shortage of oxygen. In every state, we saw how many patients died due to a lack of oxygen. We know. The Minister misled the House. We will move a Privilege Motion against that Minister.”

Condemning the Centre`s “no deaths due to lack of oxygen” remarks, the Congress MP said that this is the manner in which the Centre is carrying out COVID management. 

Taking a jibe at the Centre’s presentation on the COVID-19 situation and vaccination programme to the floor leaders of both the Houses of Parliament, the Congress leader said, “This is the way in which the Government of India is doing COVID control. This is a clear answer because the PM is giving a presentation today, I don`t know if these types of answers will be given in that presentation. This is totally condemnable.”

His remarks came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with floor leaders of all parties of both houses of the Parliament to keep them informed of the trajectory of COVID-19 in India and the public health response to the pandemic.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Central government informed the Rajya Sabha that no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states/Union territories during the second wave of COVID-19.

Responding to a question by Congress MP KC Venugopal on whether a large number of COVID-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave, Minister of State for Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar pointed out that health is a state subject and accordingly all states/UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis.

In a written reply, she stated that the Government of India has supported the States and undertook a series of actions including provisioning medical oxygen.

“Health is a State subject. Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by Union Health Ministry to all states/UTs. Accordingly, all states/UTs report cases and deaths to Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states/UTs. However, the Government of India has supported the States and undertook a series of actions including provisioning medical oxygen, and other consumables to ensure clinical care of COVID-19 patients in view of the steep rise of COVID-19 trajectory in the country during April- May 2021,” read the reply.

Dr Pawar highlighted that the medical oxygen demand in the country during the second wave peaked at nearly 9000 Metric Tonnes (MT) as compared to 3095 MT during the first wave.

“The supply of medical oxygen to hospitals is determined by contractual arrangements between the concerned hospital and the medical oxygen supplier. However, due to an unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave – the demand in the country peaked at nearly 9000 MT as compared to 3095 MT during the first wave – the Central Government had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution to the States. A dynamic and transparent framework for allocation of medical oxygen in consultation with States/UTs and all the stakeholders such as relevant Ministries, manufacturers/suppliers of liquid oxygen etc. was prepared,” she stated.

Responding to another question, the Union Minister said that there are no reports of concealing of death by the State/UT government.

“There are no reports of concealing of death by the State/UT government. However, some the states based on the reconciliation of mortality data have revised their figures. Such states have been advised to reconcile their data correctly in terms of dates and districts so as to get a correct picture of the pandemic,” Dr Pawar stated.

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