The bureaucratic mishandling has resulted in the emergency Covid-19 supplies arriving in Delhi from abroad piling up at Delhi airport. The supplies started coming since April 25, but they could not dispatch immediately since it took 8 more days for the Government of India to formulate the SOP (standard operating procedure) for handling them.
The Health Ministry claimed on Tuesday the foreign aid had been sent to 38 outfits in 31 states and UTs so far. But when the state after state started protesting, including Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar, MP, Bengal, Punjab, Tamil Nadu Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttarakhand government, that they got nothing, the ministry officials wriggled out saying the supplies are “on their way”.
A reality check by scroll-in news portal at Delhi airport showed no domestic flights have taken off to carry the supplies to other parts of the country. The emergency aid could save lives, but it seems not to have reached even to those who are gasping for Oxygen a few km away in Delhi, which has nearly 1 lakh active Covid-19 cases and over 20,000 patients in hospitals facing a crippling shortage of Oxygen.
By April 30, Delhi Airport had received 500 oxygen concentrators from the UK, 700 from Ireland. On May 2, 1,000 oxygen cylinders arrived from the US and 150 oxygen concentrators from Uzbekistan. In the past 5 days, 25 flights loaded with 300 tonnes of emergency Covid-19 relief supplies have landed in India’s capital from around the world. The supplies include 5,500 O2 concentrators, 3,200 oxygen cylinders and 1,36,000 remdesivir injections, said a spokesperson of the DIAL.
"When the government has received it as medical aid, it is meant to help the people. It is not meant to remain in boxes somewhere and become junk," said Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, Delhi High Court.
Empty O2 cylinders, cryo-containers arrive
Mighty transporters IL-76 of the IAF brought 352 empty cylinders and cryo-containers from Singapore and Bangkok respectively on Wednesday to combat oxygen crunch in the country, officials said. One of the IL-76 brought empty oxygen cylinders from Singapore to Delhi which is facing an acute shortage of medical oxygen. "The IL-76 is picking up 352 empty oxygen cylinders for Delhi. This Union Home Ministry coordinated exercise will help in increasing oxygen availability amid the current COVID-19," a Home Ministry spokesperson said.
Even as controversies rage on the mishandling of the foreign aid received by India to fight Covid-19 onslaught, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi fired his own set of questions. He asked the Centre to answer 5 questions:
- What all supplies has India received?
- Where are they?
- Who is benefitting from them?
- How are they allocated to states?
- Why no transparency?