Independent Dalit MLA Jignesh Mevani has set up an oxygen plant in his backward constituency Vadgam in North Gujarat. The 13,000-litre plant that can refill 800 jumbo cylinders in a day was inaugurated on Saturday at a primary health centre in Chhapi town in Banaskantha district dominated by Dalits, minorities and adivasis.
“It was to reiterate my team’s commitment to work for all irrespective of the religion or caste that Father Nelson, Mukteshwar Giri Maharaj, Maulana Abdul Khuddus and a Buddhist Satish Rashtrapal inaugurated the plant,” he said.
The plant is the biggest in Gujarat to have been set up by any MLA or MP, and it took Mevani’s relentless effort to see the project through. The struggle began in May when the Gujarat charity commissioner froze the account of an NGO, We The People Charitable Trust, following a complaint that it was wrongfully collecting donations through crowdfunding on behalf of Mevani.
By then, ₹36 lakh had been collected but since the account was frozen, Mevani moved the Gujarat high court seeking a direction to the state government to allow him to use his MLA fund to create health facilities in his constituency.
The Congress, which had vacated the seat for him in the 2017 assembly election, joined him with a similar petition in the high court. While the hearings were on, the state government announced that all legislators could use their discretionary funds to create Covid-related health facilities in their respective constituencies.
After the inauguration of the plant, Mevani said, “We have been able to cut through the red tape of a hostile government to initiate an accessible healthcare infrastructure for the people of Vadgam.”
About the NGO’s funds, he said, “We took the help of an NGO but the authorities froze its account and it still remains inaccessible. We had no other alternative but to approach the high court to allow us to use funds from my MLA grant.” Hindustan Times