Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday wrote to his counterparts in other states, asking for any spare oxygen. Kejriwal took to Twitter to say that though the central government has helped the Capital, the severity of the coronavirus wave was such that “all available resources are proving inadequate”.
“I would be grateful if you could provide us with any oxygen, along with tankers, from your state or any organisation in your state,” NDTV quoted Kejriwal’s letter as saying. “Kindly treat this as an SOS... We must also move beyond them and work together. We need to show the world what good and efficient governance looks like.”
Earlier in the day, at least 20 patients died at a Delhi hospital due to oxygen shortages. Over the past week, many hospitals – both state-run and private – have gone to court over the shortages they have faced. Many hospital administrators have also pleaded with Delhi and the Centre for more medical oxygen, while multiple hospitals have discharged patients as their oxygen resources rapidly dwindled.
The Centre has said it has supplied Delhi with more than the oxygen quota asked for and that the chief minister “even thanked the prime minister”. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the state was responsible for distributing what it now has in a “timely manner”.
Crippling oxygen shortage
At least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died on Saturday after Jaipur Golden Hospital ran out of oxygen. A day earlier, 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen.
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. The situation is worsening by the day with hospitals taking to social media to plead with the government to replenish their oxygen supplies and threatening to stop admissions of new patients.
Earlier this week, the Centre had announced that the Indian Railways will run special trains to supply oxygen to states and Union Territories, as several of them are facing a shortage. The “Oxygen Express”made its first stoppage in Maharashtra’s Nagpur on Friday evening.
The Centre has also decided to prohibit supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, in order to divert the stock for medical use. But as per an analysis by Scroll.in, India’s daily requirement of medical oxygen is currently more than double the amount that has been exempted from industrial use – 4,600 metric tonnes. And the country may run out of stocks in a few weeks even if all industrial oxygen is diverted to medical use.