The Delhi High Court Saturday directed the Central Government to ensure Delhi receives its allocated 490 MT of oxygen today by whatever means or court may have to consider initiating contempt proceedings against the concerned officials.
“Water has gone above the head. Now we mean business. You will arrange everything now” a bench of Justices Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli told Centre.
This followed after the bench was informed of the death of eight patients today in Batra Hospital due to a shortage of oxygen.
The bench said it could not shut its eyes, and told the Centre to fulfil the supply as allocated to Delhi.
“Delhi is not an industrial state. It doesn’t have cryogenic tankers. Thus, it falls on the Centre to arrange tankers as well, else the 490 MT oxygen allocation will remain paperwork only,” the court said.
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“The allocation to Delhi has been in force from April 20 and not for a single day has Delhi received allocated supply”, the court pointed out.
Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, for the Delhi Government, informed the court at 3 pm today that he had received an SOS message from the officer tasked with the job of ensuring oxygen supply to hospitals in Delhi, that the reserves of Delhi were exhausted, and that there was minimal or no supply from the Linde and Air Liquide plants today. He expressed serious concerns about how the Capital would tide over the shortage today, as a lot of hospitals and nursing homes had run out of medical oxygen, or would do so in the next few coming hours.
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The Supreme Court also observed yesterday that the Centre had a special responsibility to protect the lives of people.
“Forget the inability of the Delhi govt to lift the tankers, you, as the Centre, have a special responsibility. You have to push through since you have to save lives, Mr Solicitor,” the apex court had said.
The article was originally published in The Leaflet.