Continuing its ongoing hearing on lack of oxygen in the national capital, the Delhi High Court on Monday, questioned the Centre over Delhi govt's plea seeking Army's support for supply management of oxygen. The Centre said that it will take a day or two to fructify, but it was being monitored by the Defence Minister himself. Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia has written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seeking Army's help to set up, operationalise and run some Covid Health Facilities with about 10,000 oxygenated Non-ICU beds and 1000 ICU beds.
The Delhi HC bench comprising of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli also sought the Centre's action on Supreme Court's order on setting up buffer stocks for oxygen, to which Centre stated that 'it will be honoured to the best of our ability'. Moreover, the HC also pulled up the Centre over Max Hospital's claim that over 3000 oxygen concentrators were pending at customs. The Centre responded that the number of pending concentrators was 'dynamic' and that there was an order saying the process has to be completed within 3 hours. The court stated, "We shouldn't lose lives because of this".
On Sunday, the SC ordered that the Central Government shall, in collaboration with the States, prepare a buffer stock of oxygen for emergency purposes and decentralize the location of the emergency stocks. The emergency stocks shall be created within the next four days and are to be replenished on a day-to-day basis, in addition to the existing allocation of oxygen supply to the States. In its order, the SC has explicitly stated that the deficit in the supply of oxygen to the Delhi government has to be rectified within 2 days from the date of the hearing, that is, on or before midnight of May 3, 2021.
Currently, India is grappling with acute oxygen supply with Delhi being hit the worst - several hospitals have moved the High Court seeking oxygen supply. While the Centre and Delhi govt have blamed each other for the ongoing oxygen crisis in the national capital, Railways has started 'Oxygen Express' to transport liquid oxygen to the states via green corridors. These trains have already begun to arrive at UP, Maharashtra, Andhra from Odisha, Jharkhand and others. Delhi, which has increased its demand to 900 MT oxygen per day has been allotted only 480 MT by Centre. Delhi has demanded the Centre's help in procuring more oxygen, accusing UP and Haryana of obstructing its supply and expressing inability to procure tankers. The Delhi HC has warned the Centre with contempt proceedings if oxygen quota of Delhi (490 MT) is not met with, tasking Centre wit arranging tankers for Delhi. Except for nine sectors, the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers has been prohibited from April 22 as a temporary measure.