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Maharashtra did not see a single death due to lack of oxygen when Covid-19 was peaking, claimed state health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday.

"Not a single patient has died due to lack of oxygen during the peak of Covid-19 in Maharashtra. Proper management of oxygen was done, always, Tope said.

"Even at the time when about 65,000 patients were in Maharashtra, oxygen was properly arranged and provided to the patients. By the grace of God, nobody died due to lack of oxygen in the state," he added.

The minister said that 100% of oxygen meant for industrial use was diverted for medical purposes.

"The amount of liquid medical oxygen required in Maharashtra was being manufactured in the state as well supplied by other states. There was proper oxygen management in the state", he said.

On the other hand, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut responded to the Centre's claims that there were no reports from states and Union territories of death because of lack of oxygen during the second wave.

He said that people whose relatives died due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic should "take the Union government to court".

“Many people have died due to oxygen shortage in several states. Those whose relatives (Covid-19 patients) died due to oxygen shortage should take the Union government to court," he said.

"The Union government is running away from the truth. It seems it is the effect of Pegasus (Israeli spyware)," the Rajya Sabha member was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Maharashtra has the Congress, Shiv Sena and the NCP coalition in power.

Centre's statement

The above statements have come after the central government said in Rajya Sabha that the states and UTs reported no deaths due to lack of oxygen during the second wave of Covid-19.

However, the central government had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution to states because of the unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave, minister of state of health and family welfare Bharti Pawar said in a written reply.

The demand for oxygen surged to nearly 9,000 metric tonnes (MT) during the second wave compared to 3,095 MT during the first wave.

Opposition's response

The opposition parties have stepped up attack on the Centre over the statement.

Oxygen shortage led to many deaths in India, including in the national capital, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said.

“It is completely false and wrong to say that no one died due to oxygen shortage... The Centre is rubbing salt into the wounds of those who have lost their loved ones… Tomorrow, they will say there have been no deaths due to Covid-19," he added.

He said the Centre did not ask for data related to such deaths but the city government had tried ascertaining the number on its own by setting up the panel which the “Centre got disbanded through the Lieutenant Governor."

In Delhi, 25 people had died in April at the Jaipur Golden Hospital. Goa saw over 80 people dying at a state-run medical facility over five days in May. In Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, 11 Covid patients admitted to a hospital ICU died.




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