Delhi may transport oxygen via air to save time: CM Kejriwal
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said the Delhi government is considering bringing oxygen from far flung states such as Odisha and West Bengal by air instead of road in order to save time and meet the increasing demand in hospitals across the city.
Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal thanked the Delhi high court and the Central government for intervening and increasing the city’s quota of oxygen from 378 metric tonne (MT) to 480MT, even though he reiterated that the Capital needs 700MT. He, however, said it is the Centre which decides not just the quota but also the companies and places from where the oxygen is to be sourced.
“Delhi does not produce oxygen, it sources it from plants in other states. The Centre decides the companies from which we get oxygen. The revised quota that the Centre has allotted to us, a substantial part of it is to come form Odisha. But, it will take several days to bring oxygen from Odisha to Delhi by road. We are exploring if bringing oxygen from there by air is possible. We are trying for that,” he said.
Senior officials in the health department said despite the increase of 102MT per day, Delhi would be better placed if it received about 700MT every day. “There will be still a shortfall of 220MT per day which we will have to make up for by ensuring proper demand-side management and plugging oxygen consumption wastage. Also, in times of utmost crisis, oxygen is diverted from low-demand hospitals to high-demand ones, but that is supposed to be the last resort,” the official said.
According to the updated allocation schedule, oxygen will be supplied by at least five vendors from plants in Kalinga Nagar, Panipat, Rourkela, Roorkee, West Bengal, Bhiwadi, Barotiwala, Ghaziabad, Surajpur, Kashipur, Modi Nagar and Selakui.
“What remains a matter of grave concern is that of the 480 metric tonnes, 100 metric tonne oxygen from Odisha (70 metric tonne) and West Bengal (30 metric tonne) will take almost 72 hours to reach Delhi. Our citizens, our hospitals, our city is running out of time. Meanwhile, the 140 metric tonne which Haryana has to supply is yet to leave for Delhi,” said the government spokesperson.
Kejriwal said Delhi faced a severe oxygen crisis over the past few days with some state government’s stopping tankers meant for Delhi to use in their states. “Night before last, a truck was supposed to leave from a neighbouring state to provide oxygen to Delhi government’s GTB hospital. But, that truck was not allowed to start from there. We contacted a Union minister at night for help and got the truck released. We thank the Central government and the Delhi high court for all their help and interventions,” said Kejriwal.
With states clamouring for oxygen supplies, Kejriwal appealed to all states to put up a united front against Covid-19. He urged all states to help each other and assured if Delhi has oxygen in excess, the government would give it to other needy states.
“Going by the number of Covid-19 cases, India is now the worst-hit country across the world. This is a very big catastrophe. In such as situation, if now we act in a divided way and think about our own states, then India will not survive. Right now, we should help each other. We have to be an Indian first and be humane. This is the time to help each other as only then India will survive. This disease does not spread on the basis of borders,” he said.
Kejriwal reiterated that the Delhi government is preparing for more beds, oxygen and other medical supplies during this ongoing lockdown which is scheduled to be lifted at 5am on Monday.