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HC seeks govt reply on oxygen supply issues

Bengaluru: The Karnataka high court on Thursday asked the state government to file an affidavit by Monday on the difficulties in securing oxygen from outside the state
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2021 12:27 AM IST

Bengaluru: The Karnataka high court on Thursday asked the state government to file an affidavit by Monday on the difficulties in securing oxygen from outside the state. The bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar gave the direction while hearing the petition on the state’s preparedness to battle Covid-19. The HC also asked the government to make its stand clear on whether it is willing to pass an order restraining private hospitals from administering the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

While hearing the matter on oxygen supply, the bench asked the state how it plans to procure the 1,200 metric tonnes of oxygen allotted by the government. “Out of 1200 metric tonnes allocation, 370 metric tonnes are allocated from places outside state. From the figures given it is apparent that except for May 27, the state has not received the entire quota allotted,” said the bench.

We, therefore, direct the state to file an affidavit by Monday, setting out the difficulty if any for securing the quota of oxygen from outside the state. If the state is facing any difficulty it should approach the Centre immediately,” the bench added.

It added that the state should answer three pertinent questions - whether you are able to procure oxygen from other states, in the wake of the third wave has the state fixed the buffer capacity for oxygen and whether the storage capacity for oxygen has been fixed.

The high court asked the state government to make its stand clear on whether it is willing to pass an order restraining private hospitals from administering the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Continuing the hearing on the vaccine supply, the bench passed an order saying 50% of vaccines will be provided by the Centre to state for free, while out of the remaining 50%, the state can place orders for 25% directly and they can be supplied free of cost. The remaining 25% is for private players to book directly from suppliers or manufacturers, said the bench.

“Considering the requirement on the second dose, the quantity which state will have on June 1 will be barely sufficient to meet the requirement of the second dose,” said the bench.

Hearing the matter on Wednesday, the bench had asked the advocate-general to look into the matter after the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (Phana) informed the court that they are giving the vaccine to all those who are registering on their portal.

The court was also informed the central government that 16,66,000 doses have been given to private hospitals in Karnataka. The court wondered how private hospitals can be allowed to procure more vaccines than the state government, which has placed orders for 15,98,000 doses. The bench said both the state and central governments have to take a policy decision on diverting people to private hospitals for getting the first dose.

Phana said the state government can regulate the situation by passing an order against administering the first dose, instead of issuing an advisory, as has been done now.

The high court had said it is an obligation of governments to ensure the second dose is provided and failure to do so will be a violation of fundamental rights. The court was told that there is a huge demand for vaccines in private hospitals.

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