Industry bodies seek more COVID jabs for Maharashtra


Informist, Thursday, Apr 8, 2021

By Satyanarayan Iyer

PUNE – After the Maharashtra government complained about a severe shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, industry bodies have now written to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan making a case for more vaccines to be sent to the state.

According to officials, Maharashtra has a vaccine stock that will barely last 4-5 days.

According To Officials, Maharashtra Has A Vaccine Stock That Will Barely Last 4-5 Days.

Maharashtra government's letter invoked a sharp response from Vardhan who blamed the state for ineffective management of the crisis and for shifting goalposts.

On Thursday, the Federation of Chakan Industries, representing the interests of over 2,000 small, medium and large enterprises in Chakan, an industrial belt near Pune, wrote to the minister to broad base the vaccine drive so as to inoculate all employees and keep the wheels of economy going.

About 400,000 employees are estimated to be working across Chakan and the zone is home to big manufacturers like Bajaj Auto Ltd, Bharat Forge Ltd, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz India and scores of other important industries.

From Apr 10, it is mandatory for all workers in Maharashtra to either carry vaccination certificates or get an RT-PCR test done once in every 15 days.

According to industry representatives, these tests are overbooked and there is little scope of testing all employees working in factories within the deadline.

However, Sub-Divisional Officer of Khed region in Pune, Vikrant Chavan, said the notification requiring either tests or vaccination will have to be followed scrupulously.

There is fear that too much policing and restrictions will yet again put spokes in the wheel of the industries that are just about showing signs of recovery.

"The government is saying that both doses of vaccination are compulsory. And there is also a shortage of vaccine in Maharashtra, according to the state government," said Dileep Batwal, secretary, Federation of Chakan Industries.

He said the industry is unclear as to how vaccination can begin from Apr 11 even for eligible employees without enough vaccines.

Public representatives, including Shirur Member of Parliament and Nationalist Congress Party leader, Amol Kolhe, said that vaccination drives will be held in big factories in Chakan.

In his letter, Batwal wrote that the last time the industry had been brought to a grinding halt and many lost their jobs. He said that instead of shutting down, vaccination even for employees below 45 years will be a good strategy.

Pune Platform for Covid Response--a body backed by Pune's prominent industrialists--has urged the central and state governments to allocate 100,000 vaccines daily for the next whole month to Pune district to inoculate enough people.

On a call with public representatives and police officials, industry representatives sought to know that given the inefficiencies in testing and vaccination, if they will be given leeway to operate till such issues at the government end are fixed.  End

Edited by Ashish Shirke

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