NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that foreign aid, in terms of medical equipment, is meant for the benefit of the people suffering from COVID-19 and not meant to be kept in boxes at some institution to become “junk”.
“When the government has received it as medical aid, it is meant to help the people. It is not meant to remain in boxes somewhere and become junk,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.
The observation came after amicus curiae and senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao expressed concerns regarding the manner of distribution of the medical equipment, received as aid, by the Centre and Delhi government. He said that Lady Hardinge Medical College received around 260 oxygen concentrators when it did not require that much.
He said that such random and arbitrary distribution of the equipment may lead to a situation where it is not sent to the right quarters which actually need it. The bench said the concern expressed by the amicus “deserves consideration” and directed the Centre to verify the position on the ground with regard to distribution of foreign aid to various hospitals.
The court also asked the Centre to consider distributing the equipment to voluntary organisations, like Gurdwaras and NGOs, who are rendering public service. “One must not forget that the equipment received as foreign aid is meant for the people and, therefore, should be available to them. No purpose would be served by them remaining stacked in boxes in some institution and not being available’for use where they are most required,” the bench said.
Towards the conclusion of the first half of the day’s hearing, the central government told the bench that it will provide to the amicus the standard operating procedure (SOP) evolved by it for distribution of the foreign aid. In the past five days, 25 flights loaded with 300 tonnes of emergency Covid-19 relief supplies have landed in India’s capital from around the world. The supplies include 5,500 oxygen concentrators, 3,200 oxygen cylinders and 1,36,000 remdesivir injections.