By: Pramod Thomas
THE Prince of Wales has urged people to back his charity drive to help India as the country’s health system buckles with record Covid-19 infections.
The British Asian Trust, which Prince Charles founded in 2007, has launched an Oxygen for India emergency appeal to raise funds for oxygen concentrators. Together with partners in India, the charity will deploy them to hospitals and patients most in need, reported The Times.
Oxygen concentrators are an alternative to oxygen cylinders, and work by recycling oxygen from the air and delivering it to the patient. Each unit can produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute, enough for 50 people to use at a time.
Despite the growing crisis, with Delhi hospitals facing crippling shortages of beds and oxygen that have been blamed for scores of deaths, the government has continued work on the controversial £2 billion overhaul to the heart of imperial Delhi.
India reported 386,452 news cases on Friday (30), while deaths from Covid-19 jumped by 3,498 over the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data.
India has added about 7.7 million cases since the end of February, when its second wave picked up steam, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India nearly six months to add the previous 7.7 million cases.
The first shipment of Covid medical supplies from Britain to India, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived early Tuesday,
Britain announced Wednesday (28) it was sending three oxygen generation units to Covid-struck India following a first consignment of aid this week.
The three units, dubbed oxygen factories, are each the size of a shipping container and can produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute, the UK government said.
In total, Britain is sending 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators to India this week.
New parliament construction controversy
Local reports said a pet project of prime minister Narendra Modi had been designated an ‘essential service’, allowing construction of the new parliament building to continue despite the lockdown imposed on the capital.
The news has provoked outrage among opposition MPs, who have denounced the work as an expensive vanity project since it was pushed through by the government without consultation in 2019.
The project, dubbed ‘Modi’s dream’, is to build a triangular new parliament that will replace the circular Parliament House, built by Sir Edwin Lutyens a century ago.
It will also feature a lavish new residence for the prime minister himself. Modi laid the foundation stone for the new parliament in December.
Since the pandemic began, he has ignored opposition calls to halt the work and divert the cost into healthcare or vaccinations. The criticism has redoubled as the second wave of infections has engulfed the country, The Times report said.
Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) face mounting criticism for their handling of the crisis, failing to anticipate the second wave or respond as the death toll mounts. There are widespread reports of state authorities covering up Covid-19 fatalities in an attempt to save face.
Modi has so far resisted another national lockdown like the one imposed overnight in March last year, which threw more than 100 million Indians out of work, triggering a surge of migrants from the cities and crashing the economy.