Punjab, Chandigarh slug it out over oxygen quota
As most state and UT governments are scrambling to maintain a steady supply of medical oxygen for Covid-19 patients, Punjab and Chandigarh were recently found jostling over the quota of the life-saving gas.
The two governments clashed over the sanctioning and supply of 20 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen while trying to convince the Centre on who should get it.
The dispute started when the Union government allocated 20 MT of liquid oxygen to Chandigarh-run hospitals through Inox plant in Barotiwala, Himachal Pradesh.
“Punjab requested the Centre to allocate the oxygen quota to the state government rather than Chandigarh. The Centre even accented to the same,” said a senior UT official not wanting to be named.
On this, the Chandigarh administration raised an objection with the central government insisting that the quota should be given to the UT.
“Both Punjab and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) were getting oxygen from a supplier in Dehradun. As there was some disruption in this supply, Punjab insisted that as per its requirement, it should be given the Chandigarh quota. It was under the impression that the 20 MT quota granted to Chandigarh also included PGIMER’s share,” said the UT official.
The UT then again approached the Centre. “We informed the Centre that our requirement is 40 MT and we need the sanctioned quota of 20 MT. We also clarified to Punjab that the allocated 20 MT does not include PGIMER’s share, which is independently getting its oxygen supply,” the official added.
When contacted, the UT adviser Manoj Parida confirmed the dispute. “We have now sorted out the issue, and the Centre has reassigned the 20 MT oxygen quota to Chandigarh,” he said.
Parida also assured that oxygen available in city hospitals was sufficient to deal with the surge. Three oxygen plants have been commissioned at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32; GMCH, Sector 48; and Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16 – which will fulfil 50% of their requirement.