Delhi govt, BJP spar over Supreme Court panel report on oxygen utilisation

‘My crime, I fought for breath of 2 crore people’, says Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi, June 25

Delhi’s oxygen needs were “exaggerated” by four times during the second Covid wave, a Supreme Court-appointed panel report said, prompting the BJP to charge the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation of “criminal negligence”, while the AAP dispensation accused the saffron party of “cooking up” such a report.

Also read: Covid-19: SC panel indicts Kejriwal Government for ‘inflating’ oxygen requirement

Responding to the accusations, Kejriwal on Friday said his only “crime” was that he “fought for the breath of two crore people” of Delhi.

His deputy Manish Sisodia claimed that no such report has been approved by the committee members.

He alleged that the “bogus” and “misleading” report has been”cooked up” at BJP’s office and submitted by the Centre in the apex court.

“The real truth about this report is that it does not exist. This alleged report which is being used by BJP leaders to senselessly slam CM Arvind Kejriwal does not exist. It is bogus and misleading. The Bhartiya Janata Party is lying and shirking accountability,” Sisodia alleged.

Several Union ministers, including Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman, took to Twitter to hit out at the Delhi government over the report.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also slammed the Delhi government, terming it to be a “heinous crime”.

The Delhi units of both the BJP and the Congress demanded the resignation of Kejriwal, saying that due to “exaggerated demand of oxygen” by his government, supply of the live-saving gas to 12 other states was affected.

Delhi was hit severely by a brutal second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in April and May, claiming a massive number of lives daily, with a shortage in oxygen supply at various city hospitals adding to the woes.

The sub-group constituted by the Supreme Court to audit oxygen consumption in hospitals in the National Capital during the second wave of Covid-19 said the Delhi Government “exaggerated” the consumption of oxygen and made a claim of 1,140 MT, four times higher than the formula for bed capacity requirement of 289 MT.

The five-member panel headed by AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said the Delhi Government had made the claims for allocation of 700 MT oxygen on April 30 of medical grade oxygen using a “wrong formula”.

Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal said his only “crime” was that he “fought for the breath of two crore people”.

“My crime—I fought for the breath of my two crore people. When you were doing an election rally, I was awake all night arranging for oxygen. I fought, pleaded to get oxygen for people.”

“People have lost their loved ones due to lack of oxygen. Don’t call them liars, they are feeling so bad,” Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.

Dismissing the existence of the report at a press briefing, Sisodia said, “Upon speaking to members of this Oxygen Audit Committee, the truth came out. Members of this committee have informed the Delhi Government that no such report has been approved, signed or released.

“When no such report has been approved by the Oxygen Audit Committee, then which report is being used by the BJP to yet again malign the Delhi Government? Where has this report come from?” “The real truth about this report is that it does not exist. It is bogus and misleading. It is absolutely shameful and despicable that BJP leaders, sitting at their party headquarters, cooked up some misleading facts and fabricated an alleged report to shift accountability from themselves,” he alleged.

Union ministers and senior BJP leaders also hit out at the Delhi government citing the report.

Railways Minister and senior BJP leader Piyush Goyal said on Twitter, “Hope accountability is fixed for disrupting oxygen supply across India”, citing the SC-appointed oxygen audit committee’s report.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar alleged that due to the Delhi Government, other states had to face the loss during the second wave of Covid-19, adding that someone should learn from the AAP dispensation on how to make noise.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also tweeted: “…actual oxygen consumption claimed by the Delhi government…was…four times higher than the calculated consumption as per the formula based on bed capacity...National Capital Territory of Delhi…had surplus oxygen…affecting…supply to other states.”             

Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra cited the SC-appointed panel report to note that the Delhi government had demanded 1,140 MT of the life-saving gas during the peak of the second wave even though it could utilise 209 MT.

Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Anil Chaudhury also blamed the Chief Minister for the deaths of people during the second Covid wave.

“It is clear from the ‘Oxygen Audit Committee report’ that due to Kejriwal, the supply of the life-saving gas to 12 other states of the country was affected.

“The lack of storage and tankers in Delhi and the fault of some private hospitals led to the oxygen crisis. “People died because of Kejriwal”. Killer Chief Minister leave the chair,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. PTI

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