On July 21, the central government, ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claimed no death had been recorded due to the shortage of oxygen in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statement claimed that the states and the union territories had not recorded any casualties due to oxygen shortage and has not provided any data to the center.
Sambit Patra, the spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said the data presented in the Parliament was acquired from the state governments.
Hence, the states should verify their data. Sambit Patra stated the ruling party was revealing information it had received from the state government.
Sambit Patra also said that the state government had claimed in courts and reports to the center that no deaths happened due to lack of oxygen facility.
He stated that the Maharashtra government had told the Bombay High Court that no casualties were listed due to lack of oxygen.
T S Singh Deo, the Health Minister of Chattisgarh, had also made such claims, said Patra. He alleged that Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, was doing politics into such crucial matters.
He asked Rahul Gandhi why such a negligent attitude was followed by one of the largest national parties in India and said Rahul Gandhi should speak to the state governments of Congress to rectify the error.
He also stated that while the Aam Aadmi Party was accusing Narendra Modi of mismanagement in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi government in the High Court had said that there is no concrete proof to suggest that 21 patients admitted to the Jaipur Golden Hospital had passed away due to lack of oxygen on April 23.
He stated that the opposition was discussing oxygen shortage in the media to accuse the central government. However, in their reports, they have submitted a different story criticizing BJP.
The statements by the central government sparked strong reactions by the opposition leaders and netizens, who had lost family members due to the lack of oxygen supply. KC Venugopal, a Congress MP, asked the Union Government whether the patients diagnosed with Covid-19 infection had died in hospitals or roads due to the lack of oxygen supply.
Answering the question, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, minister of state for health, had stated that no deaths were recorded due to the lack of oxygen by the states and the union territories.
The opposition parties criticized Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar’s statement and accused the central government of being insensitive. AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal had alleged that Dr. Bharati Pawar had misled the house on the issue and moved a privilege motion against the minister of health.
Satendra Jain, the health minister of Delhi, had claimed the statements provided by the central government to be erroneous and stated that there are records of several deaths in Delhi due to a shortage of oxygen.
He asked if lack of oxygen did not contribute to the death of patients, why hospitals were moving to the high court every other day, and why the media was reporting an oxygen shortage in the country.
The member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Amit Malviya, countered the claim by tweeting an affidavit which the Arvind Kejriwal government had filed in May 2021.
The affidavit had stated that there had been no deaths recorded due to a shortage of oxygen in the state. The central government stated that the data they are using is generated by the states and the union governments.
Countering the claims made by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, stated that the Delhi government had planned to create a panel to probe fatalities recorded due to a shortage of oxygen.
However, the center did not approve of the panel. The panel audits the death caused by the lack of oxygen, said Sisodia.
He also alleged that the situation in India turned into a disaster due to the change in oxygen distribution policy from April 13.
Sanjay Raut, leader from Shiv Sena, accused the central government of providing incorrect reports and said that there should be actions against the party for the statement.
Rajesh Tope, the health minister of Maharashtra, stated that the state had not recorded deaths due to oxygen shortage. He said the state would probe the matter of casualties reported due to shortage of oxygen because many patients who had passed away due to lack of oxygen had co-morbidities and illnesses.
Similarly, states such as Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh had not reported death due to a shortage of oxygen. Sambit Patra reiterated that the central government was saying the figures provided by the state and the Union territory, as health is a matter of state subject.
In April-May, the Covid-19 cases in India had spiked, causing a second wave stage. Dr. Gautam Singh told the BBC that he runs a 50-bed-hospital in Delhi, and there was a shortage of oxygen in the state during April and May. He stated that the hospital was managing oxygen hourly and borrowed oxygen cylinders to save patients.
He heard the news of other hospitals losing patients due to an acute shortage of oxygen. The health infrastructure of India crumbled as the shortage of beds, oxygen, and medical equipment led the social media flooding with pleas and people trying to research resources.
Small hospitals suffered on a large scale, as they did not have enough shortage for big cylinders. Experts stated that the Covid-19 case count and deaths have been under-reported in India.