Centre’s claim to vaccinate all by 2021 a hoax, claims Mamata Banerjee
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday dubbed as "hoax" the Centre's claim of vaccinating the entire population above the age of 18 years by 2021 and asserted that the union government must provide jabs free of cost to states.
"That claim is just a hoax. The Centre says things like these. Before the Bihar elections, they had promised to inoculate its population after the elections, but nothing happened," she told reporters at the state secretariat.
Mamata said considering the gap between doses, the process to vaccinate the entire eligible age group should take six months to a year to complete.
She said her government has spent Rs 150 crore to procure vaccines, but only 1.4 crore of the state's over 10- crore population could be inoculated so far.
"The Centre is not sending vaccines to states.
Whatever little stock that is supplied, gets depleted within days... It must give free vaccines to state governments," she said.
The central government had on Monday said it expects to inoculate the country's adult population by the end of the year.
Talking about Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the chief minister claimed that it is a closed chapter now, but asserted that her administration will stand by the former chief secretary of the state on the row over his not joining the central government.
"Alapan Bandyopadhyay chapter is over now. The West Bengal government will give full support to Alapan Bandyopadhyay in whatever is going around with him," Banerjee told reporters when asked about her government's stance on the fiasco.
Bandopadhyay was set to retire on May 31, but the state had recently sought and received permission for extension of his tenure by three months as he played a crucial role in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was, however, handed over a transfer directive by the Centre, shortly after a row broke out over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's post-cyclone review meeting, which the CM and the state chief secretary did not attend.
The bureaucrat, instead of reporting to Delhi, chose to retire amid the Centre-state tussle. He was subsequently appointed as the CM's chief adviser.
The Union Home Ministry has served a show-cause notice on Bandyopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment up to two years, amid a tug-of-war between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government over him.
Bandyopadhyay has already started working as the chief adviser and was present at Wednesday's meeting of the state Irrigation department presided over by Mamata.