Ajit Pawar, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, said on Friday that he would ask Bharat Biotech, the Hyderabad-based firm that is manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine, to set aside 50 per cent of vaccine doses manufactured at its proposed Pune Plant for distribution within the state, a report published in the Indian Express said.
The statements came when Pawar was chairing the weekly COVID-19 review meeting at Pune’s Council Hall. During the meeting, the administration discussed its preparations to deal with mucormycosis infection that is being detected in some Covid-19 patients.
Speaking on the assistance Maharashtra is providing to Bharat Biotech for expanding its vaccine production, Pawar asked authorities to allocate 11.58 hectares of land in the Pune district for the establishment of a vaccine manufacturing plant.
“Pune divisional commissioner and district collector are going to process the request for the land as soon as possible. They will process the speedy approval for the provision of water, electricity, and other key necessities for the plant. It might probably take about 3 months for the commencement of vaccine production. While the company will have to provide 50 per cent of the vaccine doses manufactured at the proposed plant to the centre, we will, however, request Bharat Biotech to reserve the rest of the vaccines for use within the state,” he said.
Notably, Maharashtra is amongst the worst-hit states by the resurgent wave of the coronavirus outbreak. After weeks of leading the list of states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, the latest numbers of daily infections are currently on the wane. The vaccination drive in the state has currently hit a roadblock as the state health minister Rajesh Tope recently announced that the state government was diverting the stocks of vaccines meant for the 18-44 age group for the second dose of vaccination for the 45+ group.
On the day MVA govt permitted Pune to float global tenders for vaccines, Pawar says state permission was not required
Besides, Pawar also criticised the BJP leaders in Pune who had alleged that the state government was intentionally delaying permission to the PMC to float a global tender to procure 25 lakh vaccines for the Pune city.
“I have received a letter from BJP’s Ganesh Bidkar on the issue. I must make it clear that the PMC does not need the state government’s permission to float a global tender for vaccine procurement. I have verified this information from the secretary of the urban development department (Bhushan Gagrani) and principal secretary Mahesh Pathak. The BMC took a decision in this regard on its own,” he said.
While Pawar claimed that the PMC did not have to wait for the state government’s approval, the Pune Municipal Corporation had yesterday received the consent of the state government to float global tenders to vaccinate its citizens. The approval from the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government came after the PMC threatened to move ahead with the process without their consent.
The consent by the Maharashtra Government comes more than three weeks after it was initially sought. The Pune Municipal Corporation had earlier decided to move ahead with the process saying that lives were more important.