Hemant Soren writes to PM Modi, demands free Covid vaccine for all in Jharkhand

By Express News Service
RANCHI: Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Tuesday shot off a letter to PM Narendra Modi requesting him to provide free vaccines to the people of all age groups in Jharkhand.

The procurement of Covid vaccines by states on their own is “against the principle of cooperative federalism”, the CM said. Soren, in his letter, also expressed his concern over the rates specified by the Centre to procure vaccines.

According to Soren, the inherent diversity of India creates various peculiarities specific to the concerned states and every state has its own high-risk groups depending on geographical, cultural, and traditional heterogeneity. Therefore, a common framework defined by the Government of India with regard toprioritizing of beneficiaries across the Country is not desirable, he stated.

“The State of Jharkhand like other States has always received vaccines free of cost from the central government for all other programs such as pulse polio. This is probably for the first instance in the history of independent India that the States have been mandated to procure vaccines on their own. 

“Such a mandate under the ongoing challenging and unprecedented circumstances where the entire nation is struggling for over a year stands against the principle of cooperative federalism,” stated Soren in his letter.

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Soren also mentioned that the rates specified by the central government for procurement of vaccines by the state for the age group of 18-44 years are significantly higher than the rates at which vaccine is being procured for the beneficiaries in the age group of 45 years and above.

This dichotomy, according to Soren, will not stand the scrutiny of the reasonable classification under the fundamental principles of the Constitution of India.

“Moreover, the financial burden on the states for vaccination of the age group of 18-44 years is likely to be more than Rs 1,100 crore considering 1.57 crore eligible beneficiaries. With vaccine being available for the age group of 12-18 years and below, the mentioned financial burden will further increase byaround Rs 1,000 crore,” Soren said in the letter.

If will be extremely difficult to spare this much from the resource pool of the state which is already stressed during the Covid times, it added.

“Therefore, Soren stated in his letter, it is requested to provide to the State free vaccine for the beneficiaries of all age groups and also give us freedom to define priorities for vaccination coverage. This would help us in achieving the target of full vaccination in a timely manner which would go a long way inensuring effective tackling of the anticipated third wave, it added.