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Amid the worst crisis India ever faced, “the Oxygen Crisis” during the ongoing pandemic; Supreme Court of India ordered the formation of a “National Task Force” on 6th May in matter of Union of India vs. Rakesh Malhotra & Anr. for the purposes of the oxygen audit.
In an affidavit filed by Nipun Vinayak, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and F.W. on 22 June before the Supreme Court, in order to place before the Court reports received by the sub-groups formed by the Supreme Court under the National Task Force, the Sub-Group on Oxygen Audit for NCT of Delhi provided an Interim Report of the Oxygen Audit for the NCT of Delhi.
According to findings of this report, the Delhi Government exaggerated the oxygen requirement in the city by more than four times during the peak period of the second wave of Covid-19. This act of Delhi government reflected poorly upon the oxygen supplies to 12 other high caseload states.
Following are the 5 main findings of the Audit Panel showing how Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government placed wrong data before the Central government as well as Supreme Court and hoarded the oxygen quota which could have been provided to states in dire need. Oxygen audit in NCT Delhi was started in late April and is based on 24 hours medical oxygen consumption data. The findings are discussed below-
No. 1: Wrong Formula used by Govt. Of NCT Delhi for calculating Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) requirement
It was found by Panel that the exaggerated demand of LMO was was a result of various factors combined. One of which was use of wrong formula by the Govt. of Delhi for calculating the actual equipment of LMO for the state on non-ICU beds.
It occurred in the very beginning that the formula used by Govt. of India(GOI) and the formula used by Govt. of Delhi were different. Formula of GOI was derived by a group of experts and used for making allocation to various states. This formula assumes that only 50% of the non- ICU beds use oxygen. Govt. of Delhi stated that the Delhi govt. formula is based on ICMR Guidelines but no such guidelines were placed before the subgroup. The formula used by Govt. of Delhi assumes that all non-ICU oxygenated beds use oxygen. Delhi Govt. used this wrong formula and made exaggerated claims on 30th April of 700 Metric Tons (MTs) in SC during a hearing.
Calculation were then made using both the formulae and discussed. Following data shows how using the wrong formula raised the requirement of LMO by Delhi-
Actual O2 consumption of 183 hospitals as per NCTD govt.
Actual O2 consumption after correcting the erroneous reporting
Recommended O2 consumption as per GOI Formula
Recommended O2 consumption as per Delhi Govt. Formula
Recommended o2 consumption as per GOI formula for total bed strength provided by Delhi Gov on 3rd May 2021 (Highest till date , 16272 non-ICU beds and 5866 ICU beds)-
Recommended o2 consumption as per Delhi Govt. formula for total bed strength provided by Delhi Gov on 3rd May 2021 (Highest till date , 16272 non-ICU beds and 5866 ICU beds)
Also, due to the cylinders being not accounted and including a buffer stock, an error of 2 to 3% may be considered.
No. 2: Wrong Data was submitted by officials of Delhi govt.
It was repeatedly noted in the meetings of the panel that there was a gross discrepancy in the data recorded from the proformas (a data sheet prepared by the Task Force to assess the LMO requiremnet) as compared to data submitted on the online Covid- Portal.
On Covid portal of NCT Delhi, 213 hospitals were uploading data on the, though the proforma was sent to 260 hospitals. However, response was initially received from 183 hospitals, which included all big hospitals of the city consuming the maximum portion of allocated LMO.
It was also noted that 4 hospitals in Delhi i.e. Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital, and Liferay Hospital claimed extremely high oxygen consumption with very few beds and the claims appeared to be clearly erroneous, leading to extremely skewed information and significantly higher oxygen requirement for entire state of Delhi.
Also, Variation in the number of ICU and Non-ICU beds reported in proforma compared to total number of 5500 ICU beds and over 18000 Non-ICU beds as stated to be functional by Delhi Govt was huge.
No. 3: LMO storage capacity of Delhi was not consistent with Panel’s data. Infrastructure to store LMO was poor.
It was found by a study done on the storage capacity of LMO of Delhi government was much less than it was asking for. Findings of the study were that average daily consumption of LMO in Delhi was 284 to 372 MTs only. Whereas, the Delhi govt. demanded 700 MT LMO.
There happened to be inadequate availability of tankers and containers to transport LMO to other states. Whereas, four of Delhi containers were reportedly parked at INOX Surajpur due to issue of excess supply an place to store. Slow decantation due to lack of storage was holding up turnaround time for containers.
As per Controller of Explosives, PESO informed that on 13.05.2021 most LMO tanks in delhi were filled with more than 75% capacity, while few were completely filled.
Obviously excess supply was being giving to Delhi. It is supported by the fact that NCT Delhi picked up only 11 MT LMO form Air Liquide Plant at Panipat on 13.05.2021. Delhi was unable to store all the LMO allotted to it.
No. 4: Delhi Government neglected many factors while calculating the requirements, which could have shown the negative use of LMO.
There were many factors which were ignored by Delhi government while making calculations. If was found by the Panel that with the decline in number of cases, the need of oxygen was dropped as fewer beds were occupied at the hospitals. Delhi government did not consider this factor.
Also, there were many hospitals which had excess oxygen stored and were not using it. Delhi was neither auditing nor assessing its realistic demand to enable GOI to relocate supplies in a fair manner.
The panel finally concluded that actual requirement of Delhi was much less than what was demanded. The discrepancy was assessed near to 4 times in that the actual oxygen consumption claimed (1140 MT) was about 4times higher than the versus calculated consumption by formula for bed capacity (289 MT).
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