Punjab CM Asks Health Dept. To Explore All Options As Vaccine Shortage Scuttles

Chandigarh: With Government hospitals in the state failing to kickstart the process of vaccinating people in 18-44 age group due to non-availability of vaccine doses, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday directed the Health Department to explore all options for the supply of vaccination.

Though the state government had made payment of Rs 10.37 crore to Serum Institute of India (SII) for procurement of around 30 lakh doses on April 26, no schedule for supply had so far been received from them, Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed the state cabinet during a virtual meeting chaired by the Chief Minister.

Only some private hospitals, which had placed direct orders for vaccination, had commenced the process of vaccinating the 18-44 population, the meeting was informed. For the state government, SII has only indicated that the availability of Covishield will be known in about four weeks’ time, he added.

The meeting was informed that in the circumstances, vaccination in 18-44 age group could not be launched in government hospitals, nor was there any clarity on when the process could begin.

Meanwhile, the cabinet approved one-time relaxation in Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964 for transfer of 5 acres of Panchayat land in Mohali to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for establishment of National Institute of Virology for North Zone. The Institute has been sanctioned by the central government on a proposal by the Punjab government.

The cabinet authorized DC Mohali to complete all necessary formalities for transfer of the land in village Mullanpur Garibdas in block Kharar in district SAS Nagar (Mohali). Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said construction for the institute would start by the end of this year.

Notably, there is no provision in the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964 for gifting panchayat land to the Central Government, but Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 provides that the power to make rules includes the power to amend or relax the rules.

The cabinet noted that the institute will be for the welfare of the inhabitants of Punjab, the cabinet noted. It further stressed that the institute would of vital importance in view of the pandemic.

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