The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered oxygen firm Inox not to divert supplies marked for the Capital to other states after the Aam Aadmi Party government informed it about the acute shortage in the city amid rising coronavirus cases, reported NDTV.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Delhi’s oxygen quota had been redirected to other states by the Centre as demand has risen exponentially. In a letter to Union minister Piyush Goyal, Kejriwal had also named Inox for not following the agreement with the Delhi government.
During Monday’s hearing, the Delhi government’s counsel informed the High Court that it had asked for 700 metric tonnes of oxygen every day from the Centre. “Three hundred metric tonne of oxygen was to be given to Delhi starting April 20,” the state government counsel told the court, according to Bar and Bench. “Considering that Centre is aware and we have also written to increase the oxygen [supply]...we have requested in case they [Centre] could give us 700 metric tonnes a day. We are expecting that the Centre will look at it in a positive manner.”
The Delhi government counsel also urged the court to record its appeal to the Centre for more oxygen, adding that Inox had diverted its supplies to “another state”. When the court asked to which state the supplies were being diverted, the counsel said: “It is one of the larger states...will leave it at that.”
Following this, the High Court asked the Centre to look into Delhi’s request for more oxygen on an urgent basis. “We direct Inox to honour its contract with GNCTD [Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi] and hospitals in Delhi and continue to supply oxygen and restore 140 metric tonnes supply immediately which shall in turn be supplied to needy hospitals,” the court said, reported Bar and Bench.
The High Court gave the direction during a hearing on the Covid-19 situation in Delhi and the pressure on testing laboratories to publish reports within 24 hours. It further instructed the central and Delhi government to file an affidavit on the availability of beds with or without ventilators for Covid-19 patients, including the information on whether they included oxygen support. The court also asked the two governments to put on record the availability of oxygen in the affidavit to be filed by Tuesday, reported Live Law.
The court also voiced concern about the Capital’s surge in new Covid-19 infections – with 25,000 new cases being recorded in 24 hours – and said: “It is evident that the healthcare infrastructure is at the stage of imminent collapse.”
On Covid-19 testing labs, the court said they were not intentionally delaying reports. “Everything is stretched because capacities are not there,” it said. “Capacities are now being created.... There is [an] unending flood of people. They [laboratories] are testing nearly 700 people per day and the situation is driving everyone crazy. Putting the condition [of releasing reports in 24 hours] – it is not humanly possible.”
The Delhi government was also directed to use money from the Building Workers Act Fund to provide food for migrant workers during the six-day lockdown in the Capital.
The national Capital will go under a lockdown from 10 pm on Monday to 5 am on April 26. Kejriwal said that the six-day lockdown was being imposed to scale up arrangements for oxygen, medicines and hospital beds.
The chief minister said that more than 23,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Delhi over 24 hours. The announcement came after Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Kejriwal met to discuss the coronavirus situation in the city. Both of them agreed that the city’s health system had “reached its limit”, Kejriwal said.