COVID crisis: Delhi back from oxygen brink after HC raps Centre over poor management


Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  The oxygen situation stayed critical for most of the day here on Wednesday with major hospitals sending SOS seeking immediate replenishment and the Delhi High Court criticising the Centre for its poor management and lopsided priority.

The situation changed by early evening with the Centre increasing Delhi’s oxygen quota and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal acknowledging it.

Max, the largest private sector healthcare provider in NCR Delhi, put out a statement saying it has between 2 and 18 hours of oxygen alone in its network. The group has around 1,400 Covid-infected patients, most of whom require oxygen support.

Another issue flagged by many of the hospitals was that the oxygen units were diverted to either Faridabad or commandeered by the city administration or stopped by the local administration at Greater Noida.

“At Manipal Hospital, we have 230-plus Covid patients. Our oxygen supplier Linde is willing to supply from its Faridabad unit but Garima Mittal (Faridabad Deputy Commissioner) has taken control over Faridabad Linde plant… We have only 12 hrs of supplies left,” said Pramod Alagharu, CEO of Manipal Hospitals. However, Garima Mittal denied the allegation.

Dr Karan Thakur, vice-president of Apollo Indraprastha, too, had similar supply issues. In the Delhi High Court, the Centre was hauled over the coals for the mess.

“Why is the Centre not waking up to the gravity of the situation? We are shocked and dismayed hospitals are running out of oxygen but steel plants are running,” the court said and ordered providing oxygen by whatever means forthwith.

It said heavens are not going to fall if industries, including steel and petroleum, run on lower capacity till oxygen is imported.

“Central govt has increased Delhi’s quota of oxygen. We r very grateful to centre for this (sic),” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet.

The Centre announced that it will supply 480 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi, which will come from Odisha, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, the city government said in a statement.

“What remains a matter of grave concern is that of the 480 metric tonnes, 100 MT oxygen from Odisha (70 MT) and West Bengal (30 MT) will take almost 72 hours to reach Delhi. Our citizens, our hospitals, our city is running out of time,” it said.

Meanwhile, the 140 metric tonnes of oxygen that Haryana has to supply was yet to leave for Delhi around 8 pm.

On Monday and Tuesday, around 240 MT and 365 MT of oxygen was supplied to Delhi against the requirement of 700 MT per day, the statement said.

Since Delhi does not have its own source of oxygen, the capital’s supply comes from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Hours before the announcement, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged at a press briefing that an official of the Haryana government stopped oxygen supply to Delhi from a plant in Faridabad.

The neighbouring state, however, denied the allegations.

Several hospitals in Delhi also alleged that the Haryana government was not allowing vendors to supply oxygen to them and there is only a limited stock left as hundreds of coronavirus patients battled for their lives in these healthcare facilities.

“If the oxygen quota gets depleted in these hospitals, Delhi is staring at a catastrophe waiting to unfold,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government said in the statement.

Suppliers are facing obstructions from the district authorities of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, it added.

“It is indeed unfortunate that states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are curtailing the supply of life-saving oxygen to Delhi. Just as the Haryana government, the Uttar Pradesh government has illegally captured the oxygen production plants, depriving Delhi of oxygen,” the statement read.

(With PTI Inputs)

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