Ajit Pawar slams BJP for ‘creating politics’ over vaccine procurement

Vaccine production needs to be increased as it has been observed that wherever vaccination has been done, the Covid situation has come under control, Pawar said.

Slamming the ruling BJP in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for “trying to defame” the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government over “not giving permission” to the civic body to procure vaccine by floating global tender, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday said there was no need for any municipal corporation to take permission from state to purchase vaccine from open market.

“Leader of the House in the PMC Ganesh Bidkar met me with a letter, seeking permission for the PMC to procure vaccines by floating tender in the global market. No municipal corporation needs permission of the state to procure vaccines from open market. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) took the decision to float global tender for vaccines. An unnecessary political issue was created here by alleging that no permission had been given in this regard by the state,” Pawar said.

Except for the Russian vaccine, the Centre has not given permission to any of the vaccines produced in other countries, he added. “The BMC has floated the global tender, so we will keep a close watch on what response they receive.”

Pawar said the Centre had given vaccines to only those above 45 years but shortage of doses has slowed down the vaccination drive. “The Centre made all above 18 years of age eligible for vaccination from May 1 but unavailability of vaccine with the state has put a brake on the drive to vaccinate those between 18 and 44 years,” he added.

Only two companies are providing Covid-19 vaccines in India, the deputy chief minister said, adding that, “They have been instructed by the Centre to supply 50 percent of their production to them. The remaining has to be shared between the states, private hospitals and industries.”

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Pawar said the state has decided to complete the vaccination of those above 45 years on a priority basis by administering them the second dose. “Bharat Biotech has sought 28 acres of land from the state in Pune district to set up a vaccine production plant. The administration has been asked to speed up the process of handing over land and ensure basic amenities for the plant. It will take at least three months to produce the Bharat Biotech vaccine in the district. We are thinking of getting commitment from the company to supply 50 percent of its produced vaccine to the state,” he added.

Vaccine production needs to be increased as it has been observed that wherever vaccination has been done, the Covid situation has come under control, Pawar said.

Bidkar said the deputy chief minister has accepted their demand to allow the PMC to float global tender. “The deputy chief minister said there was no need for the state’s permission to procure vaccines from the global market. He issued directions to the civic administration to immediately start the process of floating global tender,” Bidkar added.

He, along with MLA Siddharth Shirole, had accused Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray of discriminating against the PMC by allowing the BMC to float global tender to procure vaccines.

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