The Congress-led Punjab government is facing criticism from several quarters over it's handling of COVID-19 vaccines. Even as the state administration flags vaccine shortages, leaders from other parties have accused them of 'profiteering' from the sale of vaccines. And while the Shiromani Akali Dal threatened to move the High Court, Union Minister Anurag Thakur contended that black marketing was taking place in Punjab right under the government's nose.
Thakur on Thursday alleged that the Punjab government is charging four times above the basic price of COVID-19 vaccine procurement. Why should an individual pay over Rs 3,120 for two doses when the Centre is providing free vaccines to the state government?" he wanted to know.
"Punjab Government is hand in glove with private hospitals. They are creating a false narrative about vaccines scarcity and ensuring the lack of proper vaccination facilities at government hospitals. Why should a single dose of the vaccine cost Rs 1,560 at a private hospital? Punjab government profits while the poor pay this pandemic premium on vaccines," he alleged.
Officials in Punjab however do not deny the allegation per se. According to an Indian Express report, Punjab’s nodal officer for vaccination Vikas Garg on Thursday said that the sale of vaccines to private hospitals had been a "one time measure" to enable them to start vaccinations.
While Thakur hits out at the Punjab government for their "careless and callous attitude towards the people of the state", others including former ally SAD appear to share his sentiment. SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday echoed the Minister's claims, wondering why the Aam Aadmi Party was yet to comment upon the issue.
"If they'll not correct the vaccine rates or administer it for free of cost, we will go to High Court (against the Punjab govt) or set an inquiry if we form a government (in Punjab)," he said.
The allegations have also sparked off a row on Twitter, with several BJP leaders and other critics hitting out at the administration. Others also contrasted the allegations against the repeated contention of vaccine shortages in Punjab.