New Delhi: RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has urged the Narendra Modi government not to import from China any personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, eye gear, and testing kits and ventilators to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.
Speaking to ThePrint, SJM national co-convener Ashwini Mahajan said China’s equipment and ventilators are not trustworthy, and that India should not rely on Chinese products in this critical time.
The SJM also wrote to the B.S. Yediyurappa government in Karnataka last week, urging it not to import “faulty” Chinese Covid-19 testing kits.
The Karnataka government is reportedly in talks with a Chinese manufacturer to procure rapid testing kits.
“We have advised Yediyurappa ji not to import testing kits. We have also requested (Railways and Commerce Minister) Piyush Goyal and the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) to stop importing personal protective equipment from China and to save India from more infection. If Spain, Netherlands, Czech Republic are returning faulty test kits (imported from China) then why are we ready to import? The government should wake up,” Mahajan said.
India has, however, already received the first batch of medical supplies from China’s Alibaba Foundation.
This apart, government-owned HLL Lifecare has floated a global tender seeking personal protective equipment for healthcare personnel, and it expects suppliers in China, South Korea and Singapore to participate.
China, which was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, has also offered to provide medical gear to India.
Several countries reject Chinese equipment
Concerns have been raised over the quality of Chinese medical equipment after several countries decided to return masks and testing kits imported from China.
Spain announced last week that it would return more than 600,000,000 rapid testing kits it had purchased from a Chinese company after testing of an imported batch showed they only had a 30 per cent detection rate.
Turkey also reportedly raised similar concerns about the quality of Chinese testing kits.
The Netherlands authorities, meanwhile, have ordered hospitals to send back around 600,000 masks that had been imported from China after they failed to meet the quality standards.
Even 80 per cent of the testing kits sent to Czech Republic by China proved to be faulty.
‘Not Amazon, local shops are helping Indians now’
Production of N-95 masks and other protective equipment has taken a massive hit as vital components used to make these equipment are imported from China and South Korea, and their supplies have been disrupted due to the pandemic.
“We are finding difficulties in importing several components used in making ventilators. They were largely imported from China, South Korea. Now, we have ordered (the components) from our indigenous companies, but it will take at least one month to get the massive orders,” said a manufacturer of ventilators.
To cope with the shortage of these equipment, the government had on 19 March banned the export of surgical and disposable masks, all ventilators and textile raw materials used for making masks with immediate effect.
Mahajan, meanwhile, told ThePrint India has the capacity to make adequate masks and other medical equipment on its own.
“A Mysuru-based company can alone produce one lakh ventilators. This is the time to ramp up indigenous capacity and trust our local companies,” he added.
In this time of crisis, Mahajan said, local stores are helping people and not Amazon or Flipkart.
“What happened to Amazon, Flipkart? They have closed their delivery. Only local kirana shops are rescuing Indians. So, trust our manufacturers, don’t rely on the Chinese,” he added.