Court asks Delhi government to arrange tankers for liquid oxygen amid shortage
The Delhi high court on Saturday ordered the Aam Aadmi Party-led government to arrange tankers for the transportation of liquid oxygen needed for the treatment of critical Covid-19 patients after the issue of its shortage in the national capital reached the doorsteps of the court again.
Three city hospitals - Batra Hospital, Jaipur Golden Hospital and Maharaja Agrasen Hospital - sought immediate intervention to save the lives of Covid-19 patients admitted in their units. They informed the court that their oxygen stock will last for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli was hearing an urgent plea by Maharaja Agrasen Hospital on the shortage of oxygen and pulled up the Delhi government for their inaction in procuring oxygen for the shortage of tankers and asked the nodal officers and authorities to speak with the suppliers.
"It's not that you will just write and keep waiting. What is the nodal office doing? You had to speak to the suppliers in the last three days. You knew where the supply was coming from. Get in touch with the suppliers. We cannot help you at every moment," the Bench told Delhi government.
"Citizens cannot be allowed to die like this…In case cryogenic tanks are less in supply, we are hopeful that the Centre may work this out in coordination with GNCTD, who cannot leave it completely on the Centre," the Bench said in its order.
Slamming the Delhi government, the Bench said, "The problem is you think allocation is done so everything will be served at your doorstep but that's not how it works. After allocation have you made any effort for the tankers to collect oxygen?
“Every state is arranging its own tankers. If you're not having your own tanks then arrange them. You will have to do it. Get in touch with the Central government officers. We are not here to facilitate contact between officers," the Bench said.
The Bench was told by the Delhi government, represented by senior advocate Rahul Mehra, that many hospitals that have a long association with oxygen suppliers have been refused supply.
"Place one instance and we will hang that man. We are not going to spare anyone even if they are senior government officers. We will initiate action under DDMA and other sections against the erring persons. Whatever judicial action is required, we will take that, "the bench said.
Batra Hospital, which has 352 Covid-19 patients admitted at the moment, told the court that they have been allocated 8 tonnes of oxygen but they received only 0.5 tonnes on Friday. “Our oxygen stock will not last for more than 1 hour,” the representatives of the hospital told the court.
Mehra said the situation is alarming as the suppliers have obstructed the delivery of oxygen.
Pointing out the gaps in the supply of medical oxygen for Delhi's hospitals, Mehra said, "We got 309 metric tonnes yesterday. This is also trickling. Inox's supply has been affected and we have been given Air Linde. IAS and DANICS officers have jumped it and there's a chaotic situation with disorderly functioning. The allocation of 480 should be practically applicable."
"We fear we will lose many people. I am not sensationalising this, but this is the truth. I have seen the functioning in the last 12 hours," Mehra said.
Senior advocate Sachin Datta who represented Jaipur Golden Hospital said the hospital borrowed 1,500 tonnes of oxygen from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Aiims) in New Delhi. "We have already lost 25 lives. We are literally gasping for breath. The cases are slipping out of our hand. We are trying to ask every authority but to no avail."
Plea from hospitals come on the day 20 patients suffering from coronavirus disease, most of who were admitted to the critical care unit of Jaipur Golden hospital in Rohini, Delhi, died due to low oxygen pressure as the hospital’s oxygen stock ran dry, hospital officials said.
“We lost 20 patients almost all of whom were in critical care unit and on a high flow of oxygen. Our liquid medical oxygen was over by about 10 pm and then we switched over to the oxygen cylinders attached to the main gas pipeline. There was a drop in pressure and the patients could not survive,” said Dr Deep Baluja, medical director of the hospital.
This comes a day after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal flagged the severe oxygen crisis faced by the national capital and “catastrophic” events that may follow if Delhi’s demand for liquid medical oxygen is not met. Kejriwal said some state governments are stopping tankers meant for Delhi to meet their requirement.
“Will people of Delhi not get oxygen if there is no oxygen-producing plant here? Please suggest whom should I speak to in Central Govt when an oxygen tanker destined for Delhi is stopped in another state?” Kejriwal said during the Covid-review conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.