Delhi High Court asks Centre to follow up on demand & allocation of Oxygen supply

  • Sakshi Shukla & Shruti Kakkar
  • 06:47 PM, 29 Apr 2021

Delhi High Court continued hearing plea concerning COVID crisis in the NCT of Delhi.

A Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli, while recording the statistics relied by the Delhi Government on availability of beds and oxygen, directed the Union to file an affidavit in this regard.

It was the submission by the learned counsel for NCT of Delhi, that the allocation of oxygen by the Central Government (490 MT) is far lesser than the actual amount required.

The order also recorded observation of the learned amicus, Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao wherein as per notification dated April 28, 2021, allocation was more than the demand in the respective States of Maharashtra and MP.

Learned SGI interjected while the order was pronounced, “Would it be justified to compare the allocation of oxygen PAN India? Possibly these figures are not true.”

Justice Sanghi: We are only recording their submissions, Mr Mehta. You can give us other figures and we will say that the figures are wrong. We have been shown the projected demands raised by other states in the actual allotment made to them and we find that in most of the cases the allotment are either equal or more. We, by no means, are interested in securing for NCT of Delhi, oxygen more than what is required and that too at the cost of any State of UT.

It was also added by the Learned Amicus that the NCT of Delhi may be directed to submit their action of plan on the allocated oxygen.

SGI: The GNCTD is also not been able to collect the oxygen that they are being allocated.

Senior Adv. Mehra (for GNCTD): I will also be grateful if the Central Government informs as to when will people for installation would be given to us.

The order added that GNCTD should make requisition with Tejas (plant) from the DRDO.

With respect to the submissions made by Advocate Malvika Trivedi that there is a huge crowd awaiting necessary drugs outside pharmacies with no mechanism to the same;

Justice Sanghi (to GNCTD counsel Mr. Mehra): What purpose will the portal serve? Will people only know about the movement or about the availability of the drugs too? (High Court had earlier issued directions to the Delhi Government to create a portal which would reflect the real time availability of essential drugs for COVID patients)

Mehra: The worry is, if we open it up the demand is so huge; the ground reality is that every physician is prescribing it.

Senior Advocate Rao: Remdesivir is not being prescribed to everyone.

Advocate Trivedi further requested GNCTD to take instructions on the aspect of oxygen being supplied to individuals for home Distribution.

Justice Sanghi: Yesterday, the police seized approx 100 cylinders.

Senior Adv. Mehra: We are doing our best. We did file FIR against them and now we will be able to tackle the problem in a better manner.

Justice Sanghi: The problem is that the same would become a seized property. Please conduct a VC so that these cylinders and medicines could be released.

Mr Kanwal Jeet Arora, Member Secretary, DLSA, informed that Delhi Police has made seizure of medicine and oxygen cylinders; around 279 vials of Remdesivir had been seized yesterday.

Justice Sanghi: Are these being seized from Black Marketing?

Kanwal Jeet Arora: They are being seized from the consumers.

The order by the Court, in this regard, said, “Whenever any seizure is made for any medicine, the IO’s should immediately inform the District Commissioner about the same. They should also ensure that the injections be placed in refrigerated environment so that their efficacy remains. We also direct the Delhi Police to not seize Remdesivir from the consumers. Delhi Police should conduct the investigation in cooperation with the public at large.”

Pertinent submissions made by Senior Counsel Rahul Mehra for GNCTD;

Senior Advocate Mehra informed the Bench that as per yesterday’s order in para 14, the Bench directed the Centre to look into the allocation of oxygen. However the same was not conducted.

Senior Adv. Mehra: The CG has miserably failed the State and the Government. I will now show the data by submitting everything with scientific facts.

Senior Adv. Mehra: With heavy heart I say, some heavy orders must be placed against Central Government. No single statement has come from the Central Government as to how oxygen would be delivered.

Senior Adv. Mehra: I am urging before My Lords to please not allow them to shift the goal post. What has CG done in the last 8 days? There is complete apathy by CG for GNCTD.

Learned SGI intervenes.

Senior Adv. Mehra: I request the SG to let me complete. Enough is enough now. CG is being very unfair. We can no longer be mute spectators.

Attention was drawn to the data showing increasing bed capacity dependent on Supply of Oxygen.

Senior Adv. Mehra: We are in a position to augment 15000 beds in order to cater to the second wave that would come in Mid-May. The requirement as per this for oxygen would come to 734MT. With 15000 beds and 1200 additional oxygen beds, Delhi government should get 1066 MT of oxygen. If my allocation remains at 490MT, how would we look into this?

Senior Adv. Mehra: Nothing is happening. In the larger public interest, I request your lordship to pass an order. Oxygen is a life-saving drug & it is something that can save us.

Justice Sanghi: Mr Mehra, oxygen is important, but it is incorrect to say that oxygen is the only requirement.

Three figures called by Mr. Mehra in his course of submissions were;

  1. Total generation of oxygen PAN INDIA by the Central Government
  2. Existing allocation which has been made to all the states together.
  3. What is it that every individual state asked for and how much has been allocated.

On plants functional at present and awaited for operations;

Senior Adv. Mehra: 2 PSA plants are already in function, 2 would be functional till tomorrow.

Mehra: DDU Hospital Oxygen Plants and One in Burari are already functional and from 30th April, Lok Nayak Oxygen Plant would be functional. Another is Vardhaman in Safdarjung. That is not in the list; that is with the Central Govt.

Amicus: There is limited resource; Central Government is doing is what it can, however, there are 2 problems; GNCTD needs about a 1000 MT; short question right now is that Madhya Pradesh is getting more oxygen.

Sanghi J: The officers from CG presented us figures as per which the availability of oxygen is not a problem. The availability of cryogenic tankers is where GNCTD is suffering. The tankers are not available in Delhi.

SGI: Supply of oxygen, we have augmented from whichever source possible and it is sufficient to cater the needs for today. I don't want to create a situation of panic.

SG: So far as allotment are concerned, my argument would never be Delhi centric. The actual quantity coming to Delhi is 350 to 345 MT and the same according to our calculations are sufficient.

Justice Palli: Mr Mehta, you will also have to answer of the diversion of oxygen to Madhya Pradesh also as pointed by Amicus.

Justice Sanghi: We are having a PAN India view; As a matter of fact it has been put that demand for a particular state was X and you gave them X + Y, when Delhi needed more.

Why did you not give the same to Delhi?

SGI: There was surge in cases in 2 cities in Madhya Pradesh. We are not helping AAP, but we are helping the citizens of Delhi. We are supplying and fire fighting always for Delhi.

We are with GNCTD to help them for supplying of oxygen even if they have shortage of tanks.

The system is working on our end. There is a dynamic situation.

Submissions were also made by Addl. Secretary, MHA, Mr. Piyush Goyal on the aspect of diversion/distribution of oxygen.