Assam Assembly Adjourned After Ruckus Over Covid-19 Vaccination Drive
On Friday, the Assam Assembly witnessed disorderly scenes during a conversation on the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the state, which prompted Speaker Biswajit Daimary to adjourn the proceedings of the House.
During the ongoing discussion, Keshab Mahanta, Minister of Health and Family Welfare said the immunisation programme has been progressing smoothly but the opposition Congress refused to accept it, and the party MLAs alleged that the state has a shortage of doses and raised a slogan, ‘We want vaccines’.
Mr Daimary had to adjourn the proceedings till 3 pm because of the brawl created by the BJP and the Congress legislators in the House.
Debabrata Saikia, the Opposition leader claimed that At the current rate of vaccination, it would take 18 months to inoculate all the eligible people.
“The government said there would be 3,000 vaccination centres in the state from June but the non-availability of vaccines at the camps have left people disappointed,” he said.
Replying to Mr Saikia in the Question Hour, the health minister said that 30 per cent of eligible people have been vaccinated so far with seven per cent of beneficiaries having received both doses of vaccines.
Of the 3.5 crores estimated population in the state, about 2.37 crore are above 18 years of age and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, he said.
As the Congress MLAs tried to attack him on the low percentage of people getting both vaccine doses, the minister said that the government cannot be held accountable for it.
“People have to wait for a fixed period between the two doses. The government cannot accelerate the process at its will. A government can be blamed if people have to wait for their doses, but that is not the case here,” he replied.
Bharat Narah, Congress MLA claimed that many people have been waiting for their second dose, the Speaker asked him to provide the proof of a number of such people to the minister.
Mr Mahanta said the health department currently has the capacity to only administer 5 lakh jobs in a single day, but the number of vaccinated people per day will depend on the inflow of doses, which is regulated by the Centre.
“The state has only received 85 lakh vaccines from the central government so far”, said Mr Mahanta.
Congress legislators alleged that the rate of inoculation has been slow and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika alleged that some political parties and organisations have been spreading misinformation about vaccination sowing doubts among people about the vaccines and leading to wastage of doses.
Wajed Ali Choudhury the Congress legislator also asked the minister whether vaccination drives are conducted in the hospitals.
Mr Mahanta said such exercise can be arranged as has been for hilly areas through mobile vaccination teams.
Responding to a suggestion from ruling BJP MLA Rupak Sarma for special arrangements to be made for the specially-abled people and senior citizens with illness, Mr Mahanta said, “A standard operating procedure for nearest to home vaccination has already been issued for people of such category”.