The Delhi high court on Wednesday lasted at the Center for depleting oxygen supply in many private hospitals in the national capital. The court was hearing a petition filed by Max Healthcare, which runs many hospitals in Delhi.
“Today, Max is ahead of us, and we’re sure soon there will be other hospitals too. Whatever Inox supplies is fine, but we’re surprised you haven’t done anything despite an order yesterday, “bench of magistrates Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.
The court on Tuesday directed the immediate implementation of an order to suspend oxygen for industrial use to meet hospital demand, ramp up medication supplies and vaccinate more people.
The judges sought to know why the Center is not diverting oxygen from the petroleum and steel industries to be supplied to Covid-19 patients who desperately need it. “Even if these industries are run at lower capacity because medical oxygen is needed, heaven is not going to fall. But with the oxygen stop right now hell will break free free, “he said, calling the Centre’s decision not to stop the supply of oxygen to the industries” utterly ridiculous “.
“We don’t worry, beg, borrow, steal or ask for new plants if you want,” said critics who ask the Center to meet the hospitals’ oxygen need, which is vital for treatment and recovery of Covid-19 patients.
Magistrates Sanghi and Palli also noted the tragedy in Nashik Maharashtra where 24 Covid-19 patients lost their lives due to disruption in the oxygen supply.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Center, told the court that oxygen had been delivered at two of Max’s hospitals – in Patparganj and Shalimar Bagh. He said more oxygen is on its way and he will be arriving in hospital soon. “I’ve spoken to the highest authority, every effort is being made to supply oxygen,” said Mehta.
The lawyers appearing for Max’s hospital hold court that they have oxygen stock for just eight hours at the Vaishali and Gurgaon facilities. The court then said that a shortage of oxygen had become a national emergency and called for the exercise of sovereign power. Mehta replied saying that there may be some restrictions and he will talk to the Center. The court will hear the matter on Thursday.
Many hospitals in Delhi, including Sir Ganga Ram, sent SOS to the government regarding their depleted oxygen stocks. Deputy Prime Minister Manish Sisodia also held a press conference where he pleaded with the Center to intervene and ensure adequate supply to the hospitals in the city.
He also asked for an increase in Delhi’s oxygen quota, which was right by the Center late Wednesday. Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal thanked the Center for it.
“Why is the Center not waking up to the gravity of the situation? We are in hospitals in shock and disappointed running out of oxygen but steel plants are running,” the high court said.
Meanwhile, the Center said on Wednesday that of the total 7,500 tonnes of oxygen produced in India every day, 6,600 tonnes, as of date, is being allocated to states for medical use and ensured that efforts were being made to increase its supplies in the coming days.
At a press conference, NITI Aayog (Health) member Dr VK Paul appealed to the provinces, hospitals and nursing homes to ensure reasonable use of oxygen.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan further said that a 24×7 control room has been set up where state governments can pick up the problems they face such as if their truck is stuck somewhere or movement is being blocked.