HC asks Delhi hospitals, nursing homes to first contact nodal officer for oxygen requirement


By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday asked hospitals and nursing homes to first approach the nodal officer of the AAP government to meet the requirement of medical oxygen to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli was hearing two separate pleas by two private hospitals Bram Health Care Private Ltd and the Tushar Thareja Research Centre which were running out of medical oxygen, seeking immediate supply to treat seriously ill patients.

Meanwhile, the central government informed the court that it had set up a control room for the nodal officers of various state governments to coordinate the management of oxygen supply.

“We can’t send paramilitary forces for the transportation of oxygen. Constitutionally, it can’t be done. There might be a conflict between the state police and central forces. The arrangement has been made to sort it at the bureaucratic level,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. 

“This is done so that the Centre can intervene whenever there is any obstruction of transportation by local authorities.”

Many hospitals and state governments have sought the court’s intervention in ensuring the smooth supply of the gas.

Some, like Delhi, have complained about the alleged diversion of their quota of supplies to other states. Mehta suggested these hospitals now approach the nodal officers first instead of moving the court.

“We would expect all hospitals in the NCT of Delhi to approach the nodal officer 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.

The High Court then suggested to the state government that what was needed, instead of one nodal officer, was a team with many contact numbers. However, the court did not agree with Mehra’s suggestion of “a WhatsApp group for hospitals”.

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