Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said the Aam Aadmi Party government has not received any letter from the Centre asking it to share details on the deaths due to oxygen shortage in the national Capital during the second wave of the coronavirus.
“I read it in a newspaper that the Centre is saying it has asked states about oxygen-related deaths,” Sisodia said in a video shared on Twitter. “The newspaper’s report shows that the Centre has received a response from 13 states out of which one state has admitted to oxygen-related deaths and others have denied.”
He pointed out a few reports that said the central government has given Delhi time till August 13 to share details about the deaths. “The Delhi government has not received any letter from the Centre inquiring about the deaths,” he clarified.
Sisodia, however, said that the Delhi government will share the details with the Centre even if it has not asked about it.
In the last week of July, the Centre had asked the states and Union Territories to share data on deaths due to the shortage of oxygen during the second wave. This came days after the government faced severe criticism for denying that there were any deaths due to scarcity of the life-saving gas.
India struggled with a grave oxygen crisis in the second wave of the pandemic in April-May. The shortages of the life-saving gas as well as medicines and hospital beds forced families and friends of patients to plead for help on social media. Hospitals sent out SOS messages as their oxygen stocks ran dangerously low.
On May 1, at least 12 patients died at the Batra Hospital in Delhi after the facility fell short of oxygen. The hospital had confirmed that the deaths had taken place because of lack of oxygen.
On April 23, at least 20 patients under critical care died at Jaipur Golden Hospital in North West Delhi. The hospital cited a dip in oxygen pressure and approached the High Court to seek help in maintaining continuous supply.
Courts had pulled up the government for the acute shortages of oxygen. On May 4, the Allahabad High Court had said that deaths of patients in hospitals due to a lack of oxygen “is a criminal act and not less than a genocide” by authorities.
Despite this, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar had told the Parliament on July 20 that states did not specifically report any deaths due to oxygen shortages.
On Tuesday, Sisodia admitted that there was an oxygen crisis in the national Capital during the second wave but said that it was difficult to say that it led to any deaths without a thorough investigation. He alleged that the Delhi government had formed a committee to investigate the matter but the Centre stopped it through Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
Sisodia also told the Centre to consider the possibility of a third wave seriously and make the necessary arrangements.