Congress demands sacking of Minister over export of masks, ventilators


New Delhi, March 23, 2020

Amid scarcity of medical equipment and protective gear for health workers, the Congress has demanded the sacking of the Union Commerce Minister and the Commerce Secretary for allowing export of ventilators, surgical and face masks, and raw material for masks/coveralls till March 19.

"This is criminal as our doctors, nurses and patients are facing acute scarcity," said chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.

"Should you not sack Union Commerce Minister & Commerce Secretary for permitting exports of ventilators and other raw material?" he asked the Prime Minister.

Earlier, the party objected to permission to companies to export masks and ventilators alleging that this was allowed till March 19. Surjewala termed it as a "criminal conspiracy".

"Why was it allowed when the country is facing shortage of such items?" he asked.

The party attached the notification issued on March 19 by the Director General of Foreign Trade.

The Congress alleged the government acted when COVID-19 positive cases started rising.

The Congress on Sunday demanded that personal protection equipment (PPEs), such as special masks, gloves, face shields, goggles, head covers, rubber boots and disposable gowns be made available to the health workers to protect them against coronavirus infection.

Only 30,000 ventilators are available for 130 crore population, he said, adding these should be arranged in adequate number. About 95 per cent of ventilators were already under use for patients suffering from other diseases, he added.