The Supreme Court set up a National Task Force (NTF) on Saturday to streamline oxygen allocation to states across the country, a move that came in the midst of the second wave of the coronavirus disease that has stressed the health care sector and sent the demand for medical oxygen among Covid-19 patients soaring.
Several states have complained of a crippling shortage of medical oxygen with reports of deaths due to its non-availability coming in from several parts.
“In order to ensure that the allocation and distribution of oxygen takes place on a rational and equitable basis, it is necessary to constitute a national task force of experts which would determine the method of allocation and distribution of oxygen across States/UTs,” the SC said in its order, adding, “Smaller expert committees or sub-groups may look into issues of auditing the manner in which supplies are to be distributed and utilised in each State/UT.”
The 12-member task force formed by the apex court will also review and suggest measures to ensure availability of essential drugs and medicines, and help states in adopting remedial measures to ensure preparedness for future emergencies.
It will facilitate and provide response to the public on Covid-19 queries, based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge. It will be at liberty to formulate its own modalities and procedure for functioning.
According to the Bar and Bench, this National Task Force will constitute of the following members:
1. Dr Bhabatosh Biswas, Former Vice Chancellor, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata;
2. Dr Devender Singh Rana, Chairperson, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi;
3. Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairperson and Executive Director, Narayana Healthcare, Bengaluru;
4. Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu;
5. Dr JV Peter, Director, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu;
6. Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairperson and Managing Director, Medanta Hospital and Heart Institute, Gurugram;
7. Dr Rahul Pandit, Director, Critical Care Medicine and ICU, Fortis Hospital, Mulund (Mumbai, Maharashtra) and Kalyan (Maharashtra);
8. Dr Saumitra Rawat, Chairman & Head, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital
9. Dr Shiv Kumar Sarin, Senior Professor and Head of Department of Hepatology, Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Science (ILBS), Delhi;
10. Dr Zarir F Udwadia, Consultant Chest Physician, Hinduja Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital and Parsee General Hospital, Mumbai;
11. Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (ex officio member); and
12. The Convenor of the National Task Force, who shall also be a member, will be the Cabinet Secretary to the Centre
The NTF can also call upon the following officials of the Central government for consultation and information:
1. A member of Niti Aayog to be nominated by the Vice-Chairperson;
2. Secretary, Ministry of Human Affairs;
3. Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade;
4. Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways;
5. Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; (vi) Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi;
6. Director General of Health Services; and
7. Director General, National Informatics Centre; and
8. Head, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
The concerned Secretaries can also nominate officers of Additional/Joint Secretary rank to depute for them.