Covid Crisis: It Took a Week For Centre to Allocate Foreign Aid to States

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Media reports prompted the central government to issue a statement on Tuesday claiming that the aid has been allocated to the states. The reports said that the states started receiving aid on May 3, almost a week after its arrival at Delhi airport.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI— Three hundred tonnes of medical aid. Including 5,500 oxygen concentrators, 3,200 oxygen cylinders and 1,36,000 remdesivir injections, donated by foeign countries to India, grappling with a deadly second wave of coronavirus, was left at New Delhi airport for a week even as patients were gasping for breath just few kilometers away as the centre took seven days to come up with SOPs for its allocation to states.

The reports of the central government not moving the aid to the hospitals to save lives triggered a massive uproar in the country with opposition demanding answers for keeping the aid at the airport.

As far as I know, we have not received anything so far,” Dr Nutan Mundeja, Director General of Health Services, Delhi government was quoted by Scroll.in in a report on Monday.

Delhi is one of the worst hit cities with people literally dying for want of oxygen. The city has currently more than 100,000 active cases and about 20% of them are in hospitals which frequently raise Oxygen shortage SOS alerts. The Delhi High Court has in sharp reprimand asked the centre to ensure adequate supply of the oxygen to the national capital.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs the United Kingdom has sent 500 oxygen concentrators which landed at Delhi Airport. Similarly 700 Oxygen Concrtaors arrived from Ireland. The airport received 1000 Oxygen cylinders from The United States and 150 oxygen concentrators from Uzbekistan.

Reports said that except for oxygen generation units from France earmarked for the Delhi hospital, the status of the aid is not clear.

The reports prompted the central government to issue a statement on Tuesday claiming that the aid has been allocated to the states. The reports said that the states started receiving aid on May 3, almost a week after its arrival at Delhi airport.

Delhi airport officials had said that the aid hasn’t been flown out from there to the states either until Monday.

The Hindu cited MEA saying that a group of ministers has been handling requests from states demanding aid. However, reports said that states had complained of not hearing back from the centre. The states started receiving emails coming in after a meeting of Niti Ayog with state officials Monday evening.

“We really need these supplies, but we don’t even know they have arrived,” Kumar Rahul, secretary in Punjab health department, was quoted by the scroll as saying. Similar complaints were made by Tamilnadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odhisha.

The international aid for Covid-19 arriving in India is being handled by the Red Cross Society.

According to the Hindu, U.S. Embassy in New Delhi’s spokesperson said that the U.S. is providing more than $100 million in assistance through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and that three of six planeloads of equipment and relief supplies had already been delivered, and the remainder is “on its way”. USAID transfers the ownership of aid upon their arrival to the Government of India through the Indian Red Cross organisation.

According to Scroll.in, a Redcross official said that the customs clearance process was taking long, since the authorities were insisting on a declaration of the value of each shipment, even though the government had waived duties. “This is aid sent by other governments,” he said. “It should be cleared in one go.”

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