Political parties in Maharashtra demand free COVID-19 vaccine for poor
Mumbai: A year before polls to major civic bodies in the state, major political parties in Maharashtra have demanded free Covid-19 vaccination for the poor in the state, here on Tuesday.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that people living below the poverty line can ill-afford the vaccine even if its two doses are priced at Rs 500 or so, and hence the Centre should foot the vaccination cost.
"Poor people, those with co-morbidities and people above 60 years of age should get the vaccine free. We shall raise this demand during our video-conference with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on Thursday," Tope said.
Though there is no clarity yet, the vaccine is likely to be administered free to health workers, security personnel and other frontline workers by the Centre and hence even the poor people should get it free, he urged.
Building up pressure on the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, the opposition BJP also demanded free vaccination for all people in Maharashtra.
BJP legislator and spokesperson Ram Kadam has shot off letters to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Tope seeking free vaccines for all citizens in the state.
"Maharashtra and particularly Mumbai have been the worst-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The death toll is the highest in India here along with severe economic repercussions," Kadam said.
He contended that despite an economic package rolled out by the Centre, the state government failed to provide relief to the people.
"The working class, mainly labourers, small shopkeepers, taxi and auto drivers had faced monetary issues during the pandemic and many poor people lost their lives because of inadequate health infrastructure," Kadam said.
Cyclone Nisarga in the Konkan region added to the woes of the people while the problems of farmers have also been compounded, he said.
However, with two vaccines getting Centre's clearance for emergency use there is a ray of hope for the people.
"With common man having been affected badly, we are hoping that the state would provide the vaccine free of cost to all," he said.
Earlier, sections of Congress and Shiv Sena have also expressed the view that given the economic scenario, the government should give free vaccines to the people, as it was promised prior to people of Bihar during the Assembly election there a couple of months ago.
Several prominent civic bodies in the state including in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and others are slated to go for elections in the