Central Vista project takes off, even as Delhiites die due to oxygen shortage

The ₹20,000-crore Central Vista project has taken off with Centre inviting bids for constructing three buildings, even as Delhi is on the brink of a major healthcare crisis without oxygen for Covid patients

The Centre has invited bids for the first three buildings at an estimated cost of ₹3,408 crores, even as Delhi citizens express their ire against the Modi government over its priorities at such a critical time

The Centre’s ambitious plan construct a new common central secretariat for its ministries under the Central Vista project took off this week with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) inviting bids for the first three buildings at an estimated cost of ₹3,408 crores.

As a part of the Central Vista re-development project, the government is planning to construct ten new secretariat buildings on Rajpath, after demolishing most of the existing buildings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the new parliament building on the Central Vista on December 10, 2020.

The three new constructions are part of the ₹20,000-crore Central Vista project, which aims to rebuild the government buildings on part of the 3 km Rajpath stretching from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate. The citizens of Delhi are however furious with PM Modi over his government’s priorities at a time when the country is reeling under a severe pandemic.

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Also read: SC clears Central vista project, says Centre can go ahead

Abhay Arora, a Delhi-based chartered accountant told The Federal, “The priority of the Modi government is not to save the people of the country but to construct buildings that are of no use to people at this point in time. When the money is needed for oxygen, vaccines, healthcare and medicines currently, they are again wasting money on buildings that are of no use to the citizens. This is beyond my understanding.”

Pushpal Saluja, another Delhiite, said, “The Ram Mandir collection drive started in February despite COVID. BJP has received more than ₹3,000 crores in the fund collection drive for the Ram temple’s construction. According to some reports, more than ₹9,000 crores had been collected in the PM CARES fund for COVID-19 relief.”

He added, “Apart from this, the government also receives direct and indirect taxes. Despite collecting so much money, the government has horribly failed in COVID management. At this point, when its focus should be completely on healthcare, the government is involved in useless spending. Modi and his government have failed the country and now we are on our own.”

No oxygen left in the hospitals

More than 70 people in various hospitals have died due to the lack of oxygen, which includes 25 patients in Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital. The Ganga Ram hospital released a statement, in which the authorities said: “25 sickest patients have died in the last 24 hours. Oxygen will last another two hours. Ventilators and BiPAP (ventilators for invasive treatment) are not working effectively. Resorting to manual ventilation in ICUs and emergency. A major crisis is likely. Lives of another 60 sickest patients at risk, need urgent intervention.” The hospital said it needed oxygen to be airlifted urgently.

In Delhi-NCR, the lack of oxygen in the hospitals engaged in COVID treatment is causing panic. In many hospitals, no oxygen availability has cost the lives of patients. In view of the serious situation, the Shanti Mukand Hospital in Delhi has started to  discharge admitted patients because they have run out of oxygen supplies. Similiarly, Kailash Hospital of Noida too is also not admitting any more patients.

Also read: Central Vista project: Former bureaucrats raise concerns in letter to PM

Dr Sunil Sagar, the CEO of Shanti Mukand Hospital said that Delhi is badly affected due to the oxygen crisis in the hospitals. In view of the shortage of oxygen, we have requested doctors to discharge any patients who can be discharged. We have oxygen left for about two hours, he added.

“We are dependent on small oxygen cylinders. Our hospital currently has 110 patients on oxygen support and 12 patients on ventilators. Of these, 85 patients require around five litres of oxygen per minute,” Dr Sagar said.

The doctor added, “the situation is very scary and unfortunate. We are doctors who give life to patients, but today we are unable to give them treatment, even oxygen. If this continues, patients will die. Despite many efforts, we are not getting oxygen from anywhere.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia have highlighted to the Centre that many hospitals have run out of oxygen in the capital. Manish Sisodia said that while many hospitals have exhausted their supply, other hospitals have only a few hours of oxygen supply left in the capital.

Pinpointing the need to augment oxygen supplies in the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Delhi needs 700 tonnes of oxygen every day but we are getting only half. Even our quota which is hiked to 480 tonnes is not enough.” He also asked for army intervention in the supply of oxygen.

“With no or very little oxygen left in Delhi, the life of more than 90,000 COVID active patients are in danger in the capital. The way coronavirus is spreading, the cases are expected to rise in the future. At this point, the central and state governments should only focus on stopping the spread instead of indulging in any other activities. At this point, the money needs to be diverted to produce oxygen, vaccines and healthcare infrastructure,” asserted Anil Kumar, a professor at Institute of Social Sciences, Delhi.

Kumar added, “While development is necessary to keep economy on the track but at this point of time such developmental projects (Central Vista project) will send out a wrong impression when people are dying and begging for a better healthcare infrastructure.”

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