The Jharkhand High Court has reminded the state of the paucity of oxygen beds in the country and asked why a 2017 order for creating a 500-bed facility with 5,000MT oxygen plant has not yet been complied with. The bench of Chief Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad was hearing a contempt case for non-compliance of the court’s order of 2017 which had directed construction of the 500 bed facility within one year.
In 2017 a Co-ordinate Division Bench of the High Court had passed an order directing the state to complete construction of a 500-bed facility at Sadar Hospital by December 2018 for access to health for the marginalised as well as Adivasi population. The Additional Chief Secretary, in-charge of Health, Medical Education and Family Welfare Department was directed to monitor the same and the Finance Department was directed to release funds accordingly.
In March 2020, the court had asked the Chief Secretary to explain the delay and in September 2020 the court had sought an affidavit on whether the beds had been operational. The Chief Secretary stated that December 2020 was fixed as the deadline. After this contempt case was filed, the Chief Secretary was directed to take up the matter seriously considering the surge in the pandemic Covid-19 and non-availability of the oxygen beds. The government informed the court that it has taken action against the contractor who did not complete the work on time with respect to future tenders.
The counsel for the contractor submitted that a deadline for June 30 had now been set and submitted that sincere endeavour would be taken by the contractor to complete the remaining work, more particularly, pertaining to installation of a liquid oxygen plant of the capacity of 5,000 MT.
The state informed the court that 240 beds in the hospital were made operational supported through oxygen cylinders. “Across the country the people are dying due to paucity of oxygen,” the court remarked. The court was informed that 81% of the work was done after 142.47 crores was paid to the contractor, out of the decided amount of 179.21 crores, except for the oxygen plant installation. The court also took stock of the situation on ground by interacting with the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi by virtual mode who told the court that all infrastructure was put in place including the pipeline for oxygen but the plant was not installed.
“The question herein is that when the purpose of allotment of work making 500 beds in Sadar Hospital fully operational is to extend benefit to the poorer section of the society for which the Government has planned to install beds supported with oxygen to be supplied through oxygen plant but due to its non-completion the purpose of the project has not yet been achieved,” said the court.
The court further pointed out that if the oxygen plant is made operational, the oxygen cylinders currently in use can be used elsewhere, wherever need arises.
The court questioned the state that if such a situation has arisen where 17,000 cylinders were being requisitioned by the state then why has the work for installation of liquid oxygen plant has not yet been completed?
While the court remarked that the officer are in contempt of the court for non-compliance of the 2017 order, the court granted time to the contractor to give the details of the efforts taken and the earliest possible time to complete the work and asked the state to apprise the court whether HEC Plant Hospital can be used for creating oxygen supported beds.
“We make it clear that if anybody is coming in the way of compliance of the Court’s order, such person will also be liable to be proceeded under Contempt of Courts Act For deliberately creating obstruction in compliance of the order passed by this Court and in such circumstances, an appropriate proceeding will also be initiated against the person concerned,” the court stated.
The matter will next be heard on May 5.
The order may be read here:
Courtesy: Sabrang India