Crescent Kashmir

48,000 ventilators in 70 years, 50,000 with PM CARES: Govt on how fund is being utilised

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New Delhi: On Monday, several BJP leaders, including party general secretary B.L. Santosh, Jayant Sinha and Sambit Patra, tweeted a picture of a domestically-manufactured ventilator funded through the PM CARES Fund.

This comes at a time when questions are being raised about how the emergency and relief fund, set up on 28 March to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, is being used.

BJP spokesperson Patra tweeted that till date only 47,000 ventilators were available in public and private hospitals in India whereas because of Narendra Modi’s PM CARES Fund, in one stroke, 50,000 ventilators have been made available.

“PM CARES for each one of us,” Jayant Sinha tweeted.

Production and initial supply of ventilators have started

Senior government officials told ThePrint that the production and the initial supply of 50,000 domestically-manufactured ventilators funded through PM CARES (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance & Relief in Emergency Situations) has started arriving. The ventilators will be supplied to government-run hospitals in the state and the Centre.

On 13 May, the government allocated Rs 2,000 crore from the fund for procuring ‘Made in India’ ventilators.

“Domestic manufacturers are already on the job and the entire supply of 50,000 ventilators will be ready in next few months. This will be the first time that India is manufacturing such a large number of ventilators,” a senior government official, who did not want to be named said.

Government officials Monday also quoted the April 2020 study done by a team of researchers affiliated with the Washington-based Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy and Princeton University to say that till date 47,481 ventilators are available in hospitals in public and private sectors in India.

‘There used to be 6-7 ventilator manufacturers in India’

“In India, there used to be just six to seven ventilator manufacturers. Majority of it was imported, costing anywhere between Rs 15 lakh to Rs 16 lakh. Compared to this, the ventilators that are being made in India cost between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh,” a senior government official told ThePrint.

Domestic companies, including Mahindra Rise and Noida-based AgVa, are among the companies that have started manufacturing ventilators in India since the Covid-19 outbreak.

The study estimated that approximately 19 lakh hospital beds, 95,000 ICU beds and 48,000 ventilators are available in India. Most of the beds and ventilators are concentrated in seven states — Uttar Pradesh (14.8%), Karnataka (13.8%), Maharashtra (12.2%), Tamil Nadu (8.1%), West Bengal (5.9%), Telangana (5.2%) and Kerala (5.2%).

Based on the estimates, the study says that accommodation of influx of Covid-19 patients, will require rapid expansion of current capacity or modifications in admission policy for routine patient care.

Since it was set up on 28 March, PM CARES has invited criticism from different quarters, including the opposition, who have questioned the opacity around the fund. The Prime Minister’s Office, which administers the fund, is tight-lipped about the total amount the fund has received so far and the parameters for its disbursal.

Senior government officials familiar with the matter had earlier told ThePrint that total donations to PM CARES until the third week of May has touched approximately Rs 10,000 crore.

The print

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