The Delhi High Court on Saturday said it would “hang” any official found obstructing the pick up or supply of oxygen, PTI reported. The court was hearing a petition filed by Maharaja Agrasen Hospital in the national Capital concerning shortage of oxygen at the facility for coronavirus patients.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli asked the Delhi central government to inform them about officials who were obstructing the supply and said, “We will not spare anyone.”
Earlier in the hearing, Maharaja Agrasen Hospital submitted that they had over 100 patients under critical care and needed oxygen immediately. The hospital said it would have to discharge patients if it did not get more oxygen.
Representing the Delhi government, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra said that the system will collapse if the city did not receive 480 metric tonnes of oxygen on a daily basis.
“Allocation [for Delhi] is of 480 MT [metric tonnes]...we are getting 350-380 MT,” Mehra said, according to Bar and Bench. “Yesterday we received 295 MT.” He also added that the suppliers were not providing oxygen as was promised.
The Delhi government also sought a detailed affidavit from the Centre with clear details of oxygen allocation and the supply schedule.
However, the Centre put the blame on the Delhi government, arguing that its officials were not co-operating as much as those of other states.
“I know my responsibility... I know many things but not saying anything,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told Mehra. “Let’s try and not be a cry baby. We are not fighting elections.”
Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal also echoed Mehta’s arguments while informing the court about the status of the “Oxygen Express”, the train designated to carry cylinders of the life-saving gas. He said that the supply of oxygen was ready from Rourkela in Odisha, but nobody was present to receive the supply, Bar and Bench reported. “All other States are collaborating for tankers,” Goyal said. “For Delhi, it’s like they are to be served on the platter.”
The court then pulled up Delhi chief secretary for not co-ordinating the supply of oxygen after allocation was done, News18 reported. “The problem is you think allocation is done so everything will be served at your doorstep but that’s not how it works,” the court said. “After allocation have you made any effort for the tankers to collect the oxygen?”
Meanwhile, during the proceedings, Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital, where at least 20 coronavirus patients have died due to shortage of oxygen, said that they will lose more lives if the supplies do not reach. A counsel representing the Batra Hospital in Delhi said at 12.20 pm that the facility was left with only an our of oxygen. At 2 pm, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital told the court that 40 minutes of oxygen was left.
As coronavirus cases in the country surge at an unprecedented scale, hospitals in Delhi are facing an acute shortage of oxygen. Major hospitals in the Capital have nearly ran out of oxygen for days now. On Friday, 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen.