Mumbai: With oxygen mismanagement claiming the lives of 15 more Covid patients at the Goa Medical College Hospital in the early hours of Friday, the death toll in the last four days has climbed to 75. With all fingers pointing to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, the state BJP core committee jumped into action, holding an emergency meeting to decide on face-saving measures for the party. BJP sources told The Free Press Journal, “The deaths at Goa Medical College Hospital and the government’s inability to control the mortality rate have dented the image of the BJP and the state government. The committee urged Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to pull up his socks and step up efforts to curb the virus spread in Goa. This was important to avoid the image of the party and the government taking a further beating,” sources said.
The Congress, on the other hand, has demanded that the government provide compensation to the kin of deceased. The party has squarely blamed the BJP led government for its laxity and lack of seriousness in handling the pandemic.
Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar said that the Congress party was going to file a criminal complaint against both, CM Sawant and Rane for culpable homicide. He said, “What the duo (Pramod Sawant and Vishwajit Rane) has committed is more horrific than a genocide. They overlooked these deaths on a regular interval and deserve treatment only fit for criminals," Chodankar said that as of Thursday (May 13), there were a total of 1937 COVID-related deaths, out of which only 41 were officially accepted by the government before the court as deaths due to oxygen shortage. He added that the Goa Congress hopes that the HC will order an impartial inquiry by a retired High Court Judge to ascertain the truth.
In the press statement, Chodankar said the BJP government in Goa has made a ‘business from people’s sickness”, which PM Modi calls ‘Aapda mein avsar (opportunity in crisis)’.
“For the CM and HM, the ‘aapda mein avsar’ was in fact only the commission which they were eying, from the purchase of crores of Ivermectin tablets, which have been mysteriously made a part of the Covid protocol in Goa. The focus of the CM and HM on this commission which runs into crores of rupees was one of the key reasons why the government collectively failed to prevent people from dying due to oxygen shortage,” he said.
He said it was ironic that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had the time to settle a commission dispute between Goa BJP’s two ‘political brats’ but none to focus on preventing the scores of deaths for the mass murders at Goa’s hospitals on the BJP’s watch.
Goa Forward Party leader Vijai Sardesai has slammed the state government terming the15 deaths, which took place in the wee hours, as the ‘dark hour’ of death.“In all, 75 people have died in the last four days. It is a wake-up call for the state government,” he noted. “There is a complete collapse of governance. In spite of HC intervention, deaths are happening at this dark hour. Rather than the government, HC should take over the affairs because the government is doing nothing other than photo ops and filing cases against those who expose them,” Sardesai said.The Goa government had formed a committee on Thursday, headed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Goa director Dr BK Mishra, to streamline oxygen supply to the facility. The committee is expected to submit a report in three days. The government has initiated steps to develop an oxygen supply facility at Dicholi.
The Goa bench, comprising Justices Nitin W Sambre and M S Sonak, was hearing a batch of pleas on the recent death of coronavirus patients at the GMCH when the state government counsel, Advocate General Davidas Pangam apprised the court about the fresh deaths.
Responding to the ‘logistical issues’ argument, the bench said, “We expect the state administration to find ways and means to overcome these logistical issues, so that precious life is not lost on account of any deficiencies in the matter of supply of oxygen to patients.”
Notably, the Pramod Sawant-led government had, on May 13, appealed to the Central government to immediately intervene, as Goa was not getting its allocated daily quota of 11MTs of liquid oxygen from Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
“It is an earnest request that we should be given 22 tonnes/day in place of 11 MT for at least a week to make up for the shortfall to stabilise the situation till the time our active cases decline,” Goa’s Principal Secretary Puneet Kumar Goel said in a letter to Additional Secretary in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Sumita Dawra.