The Delhi High Court on Saturday directed the Centre to provide Delhi 490 metric tonnes of oxygen, the quota allocated for the city, “by whatever means”, Live Law reported. The court warned the Centre of contempt proceedings if it failed to provide the supply by Saturday night.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli passed the order while hearing a case on the worsening coronavirus situation. The court’s order to the Centre came as at least eight patients, including a doctor, died in Delhi’s Batra Hospital after the facility ran out of oxygen stock for over an hour. The incident took place while proceedings were underway in the court.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma asked the court not to pass the order, citing that the Supreme Court too was hearing the same matter in a suo motu case. To his submission, the bench retorted saying, “Don’t tell us that. Eight people have died. We can’t shut our eyes to people dying in Delhi”.
The court also refused to adjourn the matter till Monday, when the Centre said its officers would explain the situation. “Enough is enough,” the court said, according to NDTV. “No one is asking for more than allocated. If you can’t supply the allocation today, we will see your explanation on Monday.”
The court noted that since 490 metric tonnes of oxygen was allotted by the Centre to the city as a daily quota on April 20, the requirement has not been met on a single day. During the hearing of the case on Thursday, the Delhi government had submitted to the court that while the Centre was falling short of supplying the allocated quota to Delhi, some states were getting more than what they had asked for.
The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has been consistently attacking the Centre for not providing the city with its quota of the life-saving gas. On Saturday, party MLA Raghav Chadha tweeted saying that Delhi was “gasping for breath” as the Centre delivered only 312 metric tonnes of oxygen to the city against the allocation of 490 metric tonnes and a demand of 976 metric tonnes.
Meanwhile, soon after the court’s order, reports emerged suggesting that the Centre had increased Delhi’s daily quota to 590 metric tonnes. Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Rohini constituency in Delhi, Vijender Gupta, tweeted about the decision. However, there has been no official confirmation yet.
The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an acute shortage of basic facilities like the beds, ventilators, oxygen supplies and drugs as hospitals struggle to hold together the country’s healthcare infrastructure. On April 24, at least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died after the Jaipur Golden Hospital ran out of oxygen. A day earlier, 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the city amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen. Similar tragic incidents have been reported in several other parts of the country.