After Delhi government persisted with its demand from the Centre for enhancing the oxygen supply, the Centre increased Delhi’s quota from 378 metric tonnes to 480 metric tonnes. The government has, however, written to the Centre for 700 metric tonnes.
While the increased amount will take some time to reach Delhi, suppliers were reported to be facing obstruction from district authorities of Haryana and UP. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said a Haryana government official stopped the oxygen supply earmarked for Delhi from a Faridabad, causing many several hospitals to run out of the gas.
Don’t block our oxygen supply, govt urges states
Sisodia urged the Centre to ensure that states do not stop the oxygen supply from reaching the state they are earmarked for because a joint effort is needed to fight Covid.
The increased quota will come from states like Odisha, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. Delhi government sources pointed it out as “a matter of grave concern” that of the 480 metric tonnes, 100 metric tonnes that will come from Odisha (70 metric tonnes) and West Bengal (30 metric tonnes) will take almost 72 hours to reach Delhi. “Our citizens, our hospitals, our city are running out of time. Meanwhile, the 140 metric tonnes, which Haryana has to supply, is yet to leave for Delhi,” said a source.
On Monday and Tuesday, around 240 metric tonnes and 365 metric tonnes of oxygen had been supplied to the capital against a daily requirement of 700 metric tonnes.
Since Delhi does not have its own source of oxygen, its supplies come from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Despite health being a state subject, the power related to oxygen supply lies with the central government, which decides which state will get how much oxygen. Given the new, far more virulent wave of Covid-19, Delhi has seen a huge rise in demand for oxygen. Among them are many patients from other states who have come to Delhi to get treated. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently drawn the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the gravity of the situation.
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals claimed that it had only 10-12 hours of oxygen supply available while Manipal Hospital, too, expressed concern that they had a back-up of merely 12 hours. Max Hospital, Patparganj, which has around 262 Covid patients, said it had enough for about three hours while Max Shalimar Bagh, with 285 Covid patients, had oxygen backup for only about two hours, according to a government report. Hospitals should ideally have about three days’ stock with them. The Max hospitals got their supplies later at night even as Delhi High Court was conducting a hearing on the matter.
The situation remained grim at Delhi government hospitals too. Last night, GTB Hospital just about managed to avert a mass tragedy when it received an emergency supply of oxygen for over 500 patients admitted there.
“It is indeed unfortunate that states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are curtailing the supply of live-saving oxygen to Delhi. Just like the Haryana government, the Uttar Pradesh government, too, has illegally captured the oxygen production plants, depriving Delhi of oxygen. What’s worse is that they’re indulging in this insensitive act despite clear orders from the high court,” said a Delhi government source.
Earlier in the day, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had thanked the central government for incresaing the oxygen supply. “We are grateful to the Centre for this,” he said.
Addressing a presser, deputy CM Manish Sisodia said: “This morning, several hospitals ran out of oxygen because the supply which was supposed to come from a plant in Faridabad did not arrive. A district official reached the plant and stopped the life-saving oxygen vehicles from going to Delhi. When the Centre decides on the issue of oxygen, no state government should have the authority to stop the supply of oxygen.”
Sisodia said the way Covid cases have increased exponentially in Delhi and many patients from other states have come to Delhi to get treated, there was a greater need for more and more oxygen supply in Delhi.
“The reason for limited supply of oxygen in many hospitals in Delhi today is that oxygen that was earmarked for Delhi from a plant in Faridabad was directed towards Haryana by an official of the Haryana government. A similar thing had happened on Tuesday at a plant near Modi Nagar when we had to call a union minister. It was only after his help that the oxygen supply reached Delhi,” Sisodia said.