Union Minister Santosh Gangwar has written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, flagging a series of concerns including shortage of oxygen and black marketing of ventilators and other medical equipment in his constituency Bareilly --- about 250 km from state capital Lucknow. His complaints come barely a fortnight after the Chief Minister denied any scarcity of oxygen in the state's hospitals and promised strong action, including seizure of property, against people "spreading rumours".
There is a scarcity of oxygen in Bareilly, which he represents in parliament, Mr Gangwar said. Ventilators and other medical equipment are being sold in the black market. People in the Health department do not pick up phones, creating difficulty for Covid patients, he added.
The Union minister also sought that oxygen plants be installed in the hospitals of Bareilly and the process of referring Covid patients to hospital be simplified.
Asked about the letter, Mr Gangwar told reporters that the complaints and suggestions had come from the people, and he had only passed it on to the Chief Minister.
"I think the points they raised were valid and these can be investigated and decided on," he said. "I think oxygen is just a temporary problem. It will get solved. But there should be no black marketing," he added.
Yogi Adityanath had recently asserted that there was no shortage of oxygen in any Covid hospital of the state, private or government. "Every infected patient does not need oxygen," he had told reporters late last month, seeking cooperation to spread awareness about this.
At the time, he also asked officials to take action under the National Security Act and seize the properties of people who spread "rumours" and "propaganda".
He, however, admitted that black marketing and hoarding were problems, "which will be tackled with a heavy hand".
Congress's Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had called him out over his remarks.
"Mr. Chief Minister, there is an oxygen emergency in the entire state," she had tweeted. "If you want to file a case against me, seize my property, do so. But for God's sake recognise the seriousness of the situation and get down to saving people's lives immediately," her tweet in Hindi read.
Over the last 24 hours, 736 new Covid cases have been logged in Bareilly, the number of active cases is 6,387.