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“Water has gone above the head, now we mean business”: Delhi HC directs Centre to supply 490MT oxygen to Delhi, warns of contempt action

The Delhi High Court on Saturday directed the Central government to ensure that the national capital receives its allocated share of 490MT of oxygen.

The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli in a batch of petitions raising issues relating to COVID-19 management.

We direct Centre to ensure that Delhi receives its 490MT oxygen supply today by whatever means,” the Court said.

The Court noted that Delhi is not an industrial State and has no cryogenic tankers that could enable acquisition to facilitate the supply of oxygen.

Thus, fixing responsibility on the Central government, the Court said,

“It falls on the Central government to arrange tankers… (Else) it only remains a paper allocation. The allocation to Delhi has been in force from April 20 and not for a single day Delhi has received allocated supply.”

The Court also clarified that in case its present direction is not complied with, the authority/Secretary has to remain present before it.

We may even consider issuing contempt proceedings, the Court added.

Even as the Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma sought to intervene, the Court remarked,

“Water has gone above the head. Now we mean business. You will arrange everything now. You made an allocation. You fulfil it.

ASG Sharma urged the Court not to say anything on the aspect of contempt and even requested that the order be deferred by half an hour to enable the officers to explain the position.

The requests were, however, turned down by the Court.

Will we shut our eyes to people dying in Delhi?. Enough is enough. Who is asking for a dime more than allocated?. Don’t do this, don’t do that. We don’t appreciate this. This is a new way of arguing that we are seeing,” it stated.

The order was passed by the Court in view of Delhi government’s statement that it had no oxygen reserve left to meet the SOS calls raised by hospitals. It also noted that eight deaths were reported by Batra Hospital on account of no oxygen supply for over one hour.

The Court has been hearing a batch of petitions concerning COVID-19 situation in the national capital.

Looking at the problems being faced on the supply side, the Court directed all liquid medical oxygen supplier to remain present before it through their counsel on all dates of hearing.

During the course of the hearing, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra for the Delhi government stated that while Delhi’s demand was 700MT, allocated oxygen was 490MT, out of which the suppliers had made a voluntary commitment of supply of 445MT.

The quantity on Delhi border, for today, was 312 MT only, Mehra informed the Court as he submitted that this was a deficit of over 100 MT.

Our tankers are not given priority. There is no timing, schedule given to us. We are dealing in SOS even today. My officers will have a mental breakdown. A morally conscious person does what best he can. This can’t be permitted.”, he said.

The matter would be heard next on Monday i.e. May 3.

Delhi High Court also seeks data on admissions and discharge from all hospitals

The Court today also directed data with respect to daily COVID19 admissions and discharges from all hospitals in Delhi, whether government or private, starting April 1.

Specific numbers are also sought on COVID-19 patients who were/are admitted for a period beyond 10 days.

The order was passed after the Court observed that while the recovering rate is high, there appeared to be “chocking of beds”.

“..Every day a substantial number of beds should become available. But that does not appear to be happening. Patients who require hospitalization with oxygen support should normally be in a position to leave within 8-10 days subject to their condition...” the Court said.

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra for the Delhi government apprehended that for whatever reasons, the turnaround time for admitted patients seemed to be in the range of 20-25 days.

The aspect of optimum utilisation of beds would be taken up on May 6.


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