The cold war between CM Pramod Sawant and HM Rane on Tuesday entered the arena of oxygen supply management at Goa’s Covid facilities with CM putting his foot down and taking over the responsibility of monitoring the requirement and allocation of oxygen.

Past 15 days, while the HM repeatedly stated that all is good between him and CM, Sawant made it clear that his Health Minister was not updating him regularly on the crucial developments pertaining to the State’s Covid crisis.

The two, who have refrained from sparring publicly so far, on Tuesday locked horns over the issue of oxygen supply shortage at Goa’s top Covid facilities.

Sawant visited Goa Medical College and Hospital at Bambolim to take stock of the ward-wise requirement of oxygen supply and also met members of Goa Association of Resident Doctors (GARD) in the presence of health minister and GMC Dean Dr. S M Bandekar.

Speaking to the media following the meeting, a visibly miffed Sawant stated, “GARD had submitted a complaint to the Dean but I was not aware of it at all. We were not aware of the ward-wise oxygen requirement. We have now asked the Dean to coordinate with our team every four hours. By today evening, we will try to resolve all issues.”

Sawant, who will now personally overlook the oxygen requirement and supply at the government’s Covid facilities, said that this will be to steer the state out of its present oxygen crisis. “We will ensure that the replacement is provided immediately. This is teamwork through Disaster Management Authority,” he stated. 

The Health minister refused to comment on the outcome of the meeting at GMC. However, addressing the media sometime later he, “I keep discussing this issue with CM. But now, the CM has taken over the management and distribution of oxygen supply in his own hands. CM will now have first-hand information and this will ensure that there is no possibility of any loss due to leakages. This will ensure that there is no interference.”

He said he has suggested to the CM the need to enhance the capacity of oxygen tanks at both district hospitals, ESI Covid Hospital, GMC, and at Cansaulim.

“No one had imagined that the oxygen requirement would shoot up this high during the pandemic. Our doctors are overburdened. Today, 250 patients at GMC ICU, and there are 140 patients with CT score of 25,” the Health Minister lamented. 

Meanwhile, GARD issued a statement following a meeting with Rane at the Secretariat in Porvorim on Tuesday and said that it has conveyed issues ranging from the need for more health workers, shortage of oxygen supply to other logistic issues.

“We appeal to the government to look into the issue of shortage of oxygen supply and take necessary action on an urgent basis. We appeal to the public to take preventive measures, opt for personal lockdown, vaccinate themselves and have faith in the health system,” the statement reads. 

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