The Gujarat government has requested the Centre to raise its quota of medical oxygen from the current 975 metric tonnes to 1,400 metric tonnes by May 12, reported PTI on Saturday. The government said that it was unable to operationalise 11,500 additional beds for coronavirus patients because of the shortage of oxygen.
In a letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Gujarat Chief Secretary Anil Mukim said that the current allocation was way below the requirements of the state. “The Government of India has not increased the allocation of [medical oxygen to] Gujarat beyond 975 MT, which is creating tremendous distress to the patients seeking hospitalisation and oxygen therapy, resulting in denial of medical treatment to the needy despite the availability of beds and qualified personnel in hospitals,” Mukim said.
However, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has claimed that there has been no incident in the state where a hospital refused admission to a Covid-19 patient and sent him back home due to a shortage of oxygen, reported The Indian Express. “The situation is under control,” he told reporters on Saturday.
Rupani admitted that the state needs more oxygen as demand has risen from 150 metric tonnes to 1,100 metric tonnes. “But we did not allow any of the Covid hospital to suffer from oxygen shortage,” he said. “We have not let anyone die due to oxygen shortage in the hospitals.”
The chief minister also asserted that the Gujarat government does not need to face any wrongdoing as there was a Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre. “The elders at the Centre are worrying about Gujarat,” Rupani said. “I do not want to make a political statement, but if there was a Congress government at the Centre at this time, then wrongdoings against Gujarat would have only increased and Gujaratis would have been harassed.”
Rupani’s statement came after his government informed the Gujarat High Court about the oxygen situation on Friday. The chief secretary’s letter, written on Thursday, was annexed to an affidavit submitted by the state government to the High Court.
The letter said that the total number of oxygen beds in the state rose from 53,913 on April 26, when the additional allocation was sought, to 57,368. In view of the rising cases and increase in the number of beds, the requirement of medical oxygen in the state has gone up from the projected 1,250 metric tonnes as on April 30 to 1,400 metric tonnes for May 6, Mukhim said, adding that the demand is likely to increase to 1,600 metric tonnes by May 15.
The chief secretary said despite mobilising additional oxygen from all pressure swing adsorption plants and air separation units, the state has not able to meet the rising demand for oxygen.
India is facing an acute shortage of oxygen. Several other states, including Delhi, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, have asked the Centre to increase the quota of oxygen allocated to them as coronavirus cases are rising at an unprecedented scale.