“Unfortunate That Centre Absolves Itself Of Its Duty”: Vijayan Writes To 11 Chief Ministers Over Vaccine Shortage

“United effort to jointly pursue our genuine demand is the need of the hour, so that Centre acts immediately,” Mr Vijayan wrote in his letter.

Writing to 11 Chief Ministers on Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan requested them to unitedly ask the Centre to procure coronavirus vaccines and distribute them to states free of cost.

“Quite unfortunate that Centre absolves itself of its duty to procure vaccines, ensure free universal vaccination,” the Kerala CM wrote in his tweet. “United effort to jointly pursue our genuine demand is the need of the hour, so that Centre acts immediately.”

Mr Vijayan, in his post, tagged his counterparts MK Stalin from Tamil Nadu, K Chandrashekar Rao from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh’s YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra, Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, Mamata Banerjee from West Bengal, Ashok Gehlot from Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren, Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal, and Amarinder Singh from Punjab.

In his letter, Vijayan said that the second wave of the pandemic has badly affected the states and that experts have warned of a possible third wave. “This necessitates our heightened preparations and vigil to meet that eventuality too,” the letter said.

Th southern state’s Chief Minister, citing these circumstances, said that if the burden to procure vaccines falls on the states, they will be in “dire straits”.

“Fiscal strength of the states is an essential part of a health federal setup,” he said. “If the states’ finances are hamstrung, federalism itself will be weakened and this will not augur well for a democratic polity like ours.”

Scarcity of vaccine shots will hamper efforts to build herd immunity against the virus, Mr Vijayan stressed.

The LDF leader said that till now, only 3.1% of the population has received both shots of the vaccines. He alleged that Indian manufacturing companies were looking to make gains through the scarce supply of vaccines. Vijayan added that foreign companies were unwilling to supply vaccine directly to states.

The Union government should explore options such as compulsory licensing to boost production, Mr Vijayan suggested.

In his letter, the chief minister said the responsibility of states to provide Covid-19 vaccines defies the “basis of the co-operative federal structure” and asked other states to put forth the demand of procuring shots before the Centre.

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