Home >News >India >SC panel says Delhi demanded four times more oxygen than it required; govt denies claims

The Delhi government exaggerated its oxygen requirements by four times during the 25 April to 10 May of the second wave of Covid-19, a Supreme Court panel has said in a report.

However, the administration has denied the claims and said that "no such report" exists.

"The Delhi government's claim of 1,140 Metric Tonnes was four times the calculated consumption as per bed formula, which was 289 MT only," the interim audit report said.

It stated that consumption of oxygen in Delhi in the period mentioned above had to be "corrected" due to a "gross error in reporting by some hospitals".

The panel has named four Delhi hospitals that claimed high consumption -- Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asif Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital and Liferay Hospital.

The discrepancy, the report said, led to supply for other states getting affected.

It has recommended a "strategy to manufacture oxygen locally or in the neighbourhood for big cities to fulfil at least 50% of their oxygen demand as road transportation is vulnerable".

"All 18 metro cities are to be made oxygen-independent with at least 100 MT storage in the city itself," the report said.

On the other hand, Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is "lying" about the report.

"BJP leaders have been talking about a so-called report which states that there was no oxygen shortage in Delhi during the Covid peak and that Delhi exaggerated its oxygen requirement by four times. Let me tell you that the report BJP has been quoting does not even exist," said Sisodia.

"Supreme Court constituted Oxygen audit committee has not approved any report yet. Then, which is this report that BJP leaders have been quoting? I challenge BJP to bring this report signed by members of the audit committee," he added.

The SC oxygen panel, headed by AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, includes Delhi Government Principal Home Secretary Bhupinder Bhalla, Max Healthcare Director Sandeep Buddhiraja, Union Jal Shakti Ministry Joint Secretary Subodh Yadav and Sanjay Kumar Singh of the Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organization (PESO).

SC dictate to Centre

An SC bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had on 5 May directed the Centre to maintain an oxygen supply of 700 MT to Delhi.

“We have been very clear that you have to give 700 tonnes to Delhi every day. Don’t drive us to a situation where we have to take firm and coercive steps," the bench said.

The SC had also said that the Centre's policy on the supply of medical-grade oxygen to states needed a “complete revamp". It found fault with the formula to link allocation of oxygen to only the number of beds in the hospitals of a state and active cases.

“We tell you the practical problem is that when you prepared this formula, not everyone required oxygen or bed, but many patients today require oxygen even at home," the apex court had told solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who represented the Union government.

"Your formula takes into account the number of beds in hospitals but not those who will require it at home because there are not enough beds available anywhere," it added.

Refuting the Delhi government’s claim of a daily requirement of 700 tonnes, Mehta had said the allotment made to other states was interfered with to comply with the court order of supplying 700 tonnes of oxygen to Delhi every day.

The direction came after the Delhi government flagged a shortage in oxygen supply.

On 1 May, 12 Covid-19 patients, including a senior doctor, had died at south Delhi's Batra Hospital after the facility ran out of medical oxygen for around 80 minutes in the afternoon.

The tragic incident occurred in less than two weeks of 20 coronavirus patients dying at Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, amid the oxygen crisis in the national capital.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had then said that Delhi can add 9,000 to 9,500 beds for Covid-19 patients if the Union government continues to send 700 tonnes of medical oxygen.

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