Delhi High Court on Covid Crisis

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court said on Saturday that if any official at the central, state or local administration was obstructing in the picking up or supply of oxygen, then “we will hang that man”. The observation by a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli came during hearing of a plea by Maharaja Agrasen Hospital over shortage of oxygen for seriously-ill covid patients.

The court told the Delhi government to give it one instance of who was obstructing the oxygen supply and said “we will hang that man”. “We will not spare anyone,” the bench added.

The court told the Delhi government to inform the Centre also about such officials of the local administration so that it could take action against them.

“If we don’t get 480 metric tonnes (of oxygen), the system will collapse. We have seen in the last 24 hours. Something disastrous will happen,” the Arvind Kejriwal government told the court, adding that it received only 297 metric tonnes of the medical gas yesterday. The state government also sought a detailed affidavit from the centre with clear details of oxygen allocation and supply schedule.

“When will Delhi get 480 metric tonnes? Please tell us that,” the court asked the centre.

Another hospital, which approached the High Court, said it needs 8,000 litres of oxygen, adding that it manage even with 6,000 litres. The hospital said it was given only 500 litres this morning. “We can’t manage,” the hospital told the court.

During the proceeding, the Delhi Court pulled up the Chief Secretary and said, “If allocation was done 3 days back, why didn’t you exercise your option to look for tankers? Your political head has himself been an administrative officer, he knows how it works.”

“The problem is you think allocation is done so everything will be served at your doorstep but that’s not how it works. After allocation have you made any effort for the tankers to collect the oxygen?” the Court observed.

The UT’s apex court also questioned whether the Delhi government has questioned the plants. “What is this? You are also taking the situation lightly,” it said.

The Delhi high court had on Friday asked all the hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi facing shortage of oxygen to first approach the nodal officer of the city to meet the requirement of medical oxygen.

“We would expect all hospitals in the NCT of Delhi to approach the nodal officer Mr. Udit Prakash and such other officers… in the first instance for the purpose of meeting their requirement of oxygen,” the court said. The bench said if the requirements are not met even after contacting the nodal officer, the hospitals shall contact senior advocate Rahul Mehra and lawyer Satyakam, before approaching the court.

During the hearing, the court also asked the Centre to consider the request of the Delhi government to allocate its medical oxygen from plants located in nearby states in contrast to the far off places like West Bengal and Orissa.

It said that the matter of allocation has been done by the Centre considering several factors. However, the Empowered Group can explore the suggestion of relocation to reduce the distance from the point of production to the point of supply. “However, in case the Empowered Group is of the view that the allocation needs to remain unchanged, it may at least consider making interim arrangements till the Railways are in a position to transport from the aforesaid three plants,” said the court.

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