On the 24th of April, Honourable Delhi High Court went on to hear another plea about the COVID-19 crisis all across the National Capital. This was a plea on oxygen shortage by Maharaja Agrasen Hospital.
The Delhi High Court Bench led by Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli heard another plea over an Oxygen supply shortage filed by the Maharaja Agrasen Hospital on the 24th of April. The Court reiterated the order it passed yesterday which had asked the Hospitals to reach out to the Nodal officer so that whatever supplies exist could be rushed to the needy. The Court also directed the Delhi Government to set up its Oxygen plants.
The Court, while highlighting the fact that Delhi does not have tankers to get Oxygen transported from other states, told the Delhi Government that there seemed to be some action gap on their part and certain steps which they were required to take were not taken. Also, there was no excuse for them not being able to get Oxygen transported into Delhi when the other states are doing so. It was noted that during one of the similar hearings earlier, the Central Government had assured that Delhi would receive 480 MT of Oxygen. It was then highlighted that due to a surge in demand, transportation had become a major problem and enough cryogenic tankers were not available in Delhi to carry O2.
The Court also asked the Delhi Government Officers whether they had made any efforts to contact Oxygen plants and whose fault it was If Oxygen was not coming. The Delhi High Court then observed that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is a tsunami and as per expert reports from IIT, Delhi, Delhi will witness the coming of a peak in mid-May. Therefore, the Bench then asked both the Central and State governments about the level of preparedness to combat the same.
The Court further added, “What are the projections? We know this disease has low mortality, some will eventually die. What is not good is that we are losing people who could have been saved. It is our responsibility to see that those who can be saved are brought back from death.”
The Court then asked both the Central and State Governments to make sure that the availability of resources like doctors, beds, medicines; paramedics etc. is increased, keeping in mind that the peak is yet to hit. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then assured the Court that the Central Government was already conscious of the need and apart from increasing the beds, as much as 50k MT Oxygen was being imported, and wherever possible, Oxygen production was being tapped. The Court then directed that plenty of tanks should be made available to supply Oxygen.
The Court noted, “The problems that Delhi continues to face arise primarily since the supply of Oxygen even at the allocated rate is not taking place”. It was also noted that the Delhi Government could not arrange tankers whereas tankers had already reached the Oxygen plant in Durgapur and were ready to be transported by Railways, for Rourkela and Kalinga Nagar.
SG Tushar Mehta then pointed towards the fact that the Central Government had already formed a ‘sub- committee’ on transportation to assist in such circumstances. The Central Government also informed the Court that there was no shortage of Oxygen in the country as the Eastern region had the availability of over 15K MT. The Court then told both the governments to coordinate in this matter and asked the Delhi Government to note the fact that as a responsible government, the responsibility falls on them as well.
The Bench clarified that the Delhi Government is required to make an all-out effort to procure cryogenic tankers. The Central Government was also told to look into the issue so that arrangements could be made to transport liquid oxygen in coordination with GNCTD. All the Oxygen suppliers and re-fillers were then directed to provide complete details of their services to the Delhi Nodal Officer, Mr. Udit Prakash.
Regarding the plea made by four different hospitals seeking urgent Oxygen supply, the Court stated, “We are not in a position to direct the supply of Oxygen to particular hospitals, we are trying to do what we can. It’s not that Delhi Government has Oxygen. We are also concerned about the lives. In case if any security arrangements are needed, Delhi police shall provide the same to the hospitals facing Oxygen shortage. We know how people react when they lose their loved ones, let us not have a law and order situation.”
The Court ordered that the requests of the hospitals which have moved the Court shall be considered by the Delhi Government as soon as they receive the supplies.
The matter is scheduled to be heard on the 26th of April.
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