The Supreme Court on Friday warned that it will be compelled to take action against the Centre if authorities do not provide 700 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to Delhi every day, to help the city meet its demands to treat Covid-19 patients, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Don’t force us to take coercive steps,” the court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the central government. “Tell your officers to comply with our order of 700 MT of oxygen every day.”

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah told Mehta that an order to that effect had been passed, which will be also uploaded online during the course of the day. “We mean business,” the court added, according to Live Law. “Please don’t force us to be in a situation where we have to be firm.”

The Supreme Court made the observations as it continued hearing the petition filed by the Centre against a Delhi High Court’s contempt notice to the government for its failure to immediately supply full quota of oxygen to the Capital city during the coronavirus crisis. The Supreme Court had stayed the order on Wednesday but told the Centre to provide 700 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi.

During the proceedings on Thursday, the Centre told the court that it had complied with its order. It said that instead of 700 metric tonnes of oxygen, the government had ensured a supply of 730 metric tonnes to Delhi for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

While the Centre did provide 730 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi on Wednesday, a day a later, the supplies were again reduced to 537 metric tonnes, advocate Rahul Mehra told the Supreme Court on Friday, according to Live Law.

Upset by the submission, the court said that it will once more clarify its order, so that there is no confusion in the future. “It is not that 700 MT is supplied on a single day and court’s order are assuaged,” Justice Chandrachud told the Centre. “We want 700 MT to be supplied to Delhi every day till we modify our order. Your officers have to ensure it.”

Oxygen crisis

A devastating second wave of coronavirus in India has led to widespread shortages of medical oxygen and medicines in Delhi and several other states.

Multiple hospitals in the city were forced to approach courts to ensure they received supplies of medical oxygen to save lives of Covid-19 patients. Several others have been sending out desperate SOS messages on social media as supplies ran dangerously low.

On Sunday, a children’s hospital was among at least three institutions that raised an alarm that it was running out of oxygen. On April 30, as many as 12 patients, including a senior doctor, had died at Batra Hospital due to oxygen shortage.

On April 24, at least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died after the hospital treating them ran out of oxygen. Authorities at the Jaipur Golden Hospital said that another 200 lives were at risk as they had supplies to last only half-an-hour.