Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 1
Taking note of 12 deaths at Batra Hospital in the national capital due to lack of oxygen supply, the Delhi High Court on Saturday directed the Centre to supply 490 MT of allocated oxygen to Delhi during the day itself by whatever means or face contempt of court action.
“Water has gone over our head. Now we mean business. Enough is enough,” a visibly upset Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli said.
“We direct the Central Government to ensure that NCT of Delhi receives its allocated supply of 490 MT positively today, by whatever means,” the Bench ordered.
As Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma requested deferment of the order till Monday or at least for 30 minutes, the Bench said “Do you mean we will shut our eyes to people dying in Delhi?”
It said, “Considering the fact that Delhi is not an industrial state, and does not have availability of cryogenic tankers of its own which could be requisitioned under the Disaster Management Act—like other states have done, it falls upon the central government to arrange the tankers as well, so that the allocation made to Delhi could be fulfilled, lest it remains only a paper allocation.”
“The central government shall ensure availability of cryogenic tankers as well for the said supply,” it said, posting the matter for further hearing on Monday.
The high court noted that the allocation to Delhi, which was earlier of 480 MT (since April 20), and now was 490 MT has not been fulfilled even for a single day.
“In case, this order is not implemented, the concerned officers of the central government viz. Mr. Piyush Goyal and Ms. Sunita Dawra shall remain present during the hearing on 03.05.2021. Looking at the situation, we make it clear that we may even consider initiating Contempt Proceedings in case of non-compliance,” the HC said.
Earlier, senior counsel Rahul Mehra, representing Delhi government, submitted that while Delhi’s demand was 700MT, allocated oxygen was 490MT, out of which the suppliers had made a voluntary commitment of supply of 445MT. The quantity on Delhi border, for today, was 312 MT only, a shortfall of over 100 MT, he added.
“Our tankers are not given priority. There is no timing or schedule given to us. We are dealing in SOS even today. My officers will have a mental breakdown”, he said.
The HC also sought data on daily COVID-19 admissions and discharges from government and private hospitals in the capital since April 1.
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