The Madras High Court, on May 6, refrained from passing any directions to any authorities and took stock of the Covid situation in the state, while appealing to the Centre to take immediate steps to meet the needs of oxygen in the state. The bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was informed by officials that the reserves have been used up to the extent that there may be a further day's reserve, but there may not be oxygen to supply in adequate quantity on Saturday.
The court identified that the main concern was oxygen supply to Tamil Nadu. The court was informed that the state has a production capacity of about 400 MT per day and that the south-western districts would be served by a Palakkad unit which would supply about 40 MT of oxygen per day. On the other hand, the daily requirement is 450MT.
In a meeting held on May 2, with the Centre and few other states, Tamil Nadu was allotted 475 MT of oxygen. However, in the allocation order issued on May 5, Tamil Nadu was not included.
It was further submitted that in the meeting, Tamil Nadu agreed to allow at least 25 MT of oxygen to be supplied by a plant in Sriperumbudur to Andhra Pradesh or Telangana in lieu of the supply from Palakkad, Kerala of 40 MT per day being retained. However, in the subsequent allocation order that was issued by the empowered committee put in place by the Central Government, not only did Tamil Nadu not figure, the Sriperumbudur allocation to Andhra Pradesh or Telangana was recognised therein, but the Palakkad supply to southern and western districts of Tamil Nadu found no mention. The officials informed the court that it is a critical situation and the reserves have been used up to the extent that there may be a further day's reserve, but there may not be oxygen to supply in adequate quantity on Saturday.
The court said that in the present situation it is making an appeal for equitable distribution. “The Union and the empowered committee should take immediate steps in such regard to ensure adequate supply of oxygen to the State of Tamil Nadu to meet the needs. This must be ensured by tomorrow, so that the emergency that the officials speak of – of the reserves supply running out by Saturday – does not happen,” the court stated. The court also mentioned that the Sterlite unit is unlikely to produce oxygen till next week.
The court also suggested that the oxygen generating machines installed by Defence Research and Development Organisation should be installed in big cities like Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai.
The officials informed the court that 95% percent oxygen beds remain occupied and measures have been initiated to augment bed capacity, including oxygenated bed capacity. The officials further informed the court that measures are being taken to set up centres in major cities, including Madurai and Coimbatore for release of Remdesivir directly to private hospitals or patient parties.
The court is also awaiting the inquiry report on the incident in Chengalpattu where 12 patients died.
While the court considered the submissions made by the petitioners, it was not inclined to pass any directions. It said, “It is not necessary to impose conditions on beleaguered officials and administration at this stage and to allow them to function as freely as possible and without directions of Court confusing matters”. The court only appealed to the officials to ensure that citizens’ needs are met and whatever is in the power of the authorities may be done to prevent further suffering.
The case will be next heard on May 12, if not required by any other untoward circumstances earlier.
The order may be read here:
Courtesy: Sabrang India