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Centre, State Trade Charges Over Uninstalled Ventilators in Punjab Amid Covid Surge

A ventilator is seen next to a Covid patient. (Image for representation/REUTERS)

A ventilator is seen next to a Covid patient. (Image for representation/REUTERS)

The Union govt accuses Punjab of not installing 251 ventilators out of 809 ventilators supplied by the Centre, but Punjab says most of them are faulty.

Even as the Covid cases continue to surge in Punjab, a tussle between the Centre and the State government over the distribution of ventilators threatens to impact the installation of critical healthcare equipment in hospitals handling Covid cases across the State.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday shot off a letter to the Punjab Chief Secretary, Vini Mahajan, expressing dismay over delays in installing ventilators dispatched by the Union health ministry to the State government.

“The state of Punjab has so far been allocated 809 ventilators as demanded by the State government. Out of the same, only 558 have been installed while 251 are still pending installation,” said the health secretary, adding, “Non-commissioning of the same defeats the very purpose of this exercise by the Union government.” But the State government has its side of the story denying allegations of delay. According to the Punjab government official, a good number of 809 ventilators dispatched by the Centre are ‘faulty’.

On May 1, Punjab’s Health Secretary Hussan Lal in a letter addressed to the joint secretary in the Union health ministry had pointed out the malfunctioning of some of the ventilators and sought immediate intervention. “We have been raising the issue with the Centre and the team of engineers has now arrived at Faridkot to look at some of the faulty ventilators. We are sure we will be able to address the issue soon and ventilators would be put into place,” the Punjab Health secretary told News 18.com.

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A sizeable number of those ventilators which have developed faults are the ones that have been dispatched to Faridkot. Punjab officials claimed that 71 of the 80 ventilators which were sent to Faridkot-based Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital (GGSMCH) from the PM Cares Fund and the ventilator manufacturer AgVa Healthcare had turned out to be non-functional due to the various technical snags. The issue was even raised by the AAP legislator from Faridkot, Kultar Singh Sandhwan.

“If the ventilators have been faulty and their fault has been identified, the government should take steps to get them replaced or repaired. A case of murder should be filed against the manufacturers and they should be brought to task,” Sandhwan told News18.com.

He alleged that due to the tussle between the Centre and the State government crucial time was being lost in installing important life-saving equipment to fight the Covid battle.

“The focus should be on getting the equipment up and running rather than on blame game,” commented Sandhwan.

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first published:May 12, 2021, 17:29 IST