Mumbai: In a big relief for Maharashtra, which has the highest number of new corona cases per day, the Centre has accepted the state government’s request for airlifting of oxygen supply. At a video conference, PM Narendra Modi assured CM Uddhav Thackeray that while empty tankers would be airlifted from the state to other states with oxygen availability, the filled tankers would return to Maharashtra through rail or road. The state government is currently procuring 1,250MTs from suppliers in Maharashtra and 300MTs from other states. It anticipates that demand may increase to 2,000MTs if cases continue to rise at the present pace.
The PM’s assurance came after Thackeray requested that the oxygen supply can be organised from neighbouring states, instead of distant states, for early availability. He further said that empty oxygen tanks should be flown back to refilling plants to save time, if it was not possible to airlift oxygen.
Thackeray told the Prime Minister that over 60,000 patients in the state were on oxygen while there were 76,300 oxygen beds and over 25,000 additional oxygen beds were being arranged. “Considering its requirement, Maharashtra should get 250 to 300 metric tonnes of additional oxygen,” he said.
Modi’s assurance came a day after Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope had urged the Centre to supply 500MTs oxygen, saying he was ready to touch the Centre’s feet for this purpose.
In addition, Thackeray urged the PM to allow the import of vaccines as the state government wanted to carry out vaccination on the lines of the UK. Currently, the state is inoculating 3.50 lakh people but has set an ambitious target of 6-7 lakh per day, provided the Centre ramps up the supply of vaccine doses. The government also pressed for one nation-one rate for vaccines.
Thackeray informed that the state had a 5.71 crore population in the 18 to 45 age group and 12 crore doses would be required to vaccinate them all. He urged Modi to allow private corporations to procure vaccines from manufacturers under Corporate Social Responsibility funds. He also demanded that there should be clarity on vaccine distribution from the Centre.
Further, he said the state needed to get Remdesivir based on the number of patients and also sought uninterrupted supply of other medicines to treat corona patients. This is important, as the Centre recently allocated 27,000 Remdesivir vials against its requirement of 70,000 vials amid rising demand from the COVID 19 patients. Thackeray made a strong case for increasing the daily supply of Remdesivir to 70,000 and also demanded that the Centre needed to approve the import of the drug by the state. The CM also sought 13,000 jumbo cylinders and 1,100 ventilators.
He appealed to the PM about the necessity of a comprehensive study on the coronavirus mutation.
On his part, Thackeray assured that the state government would permanently emphasise Covid-compatible behaviour, seek help from retired doctors, nurses and medical students and TeleICU and medical assistance for home-quarantined patients.