Centre submits “dynamic” plan on oxygen supply, says Delhi government needs to distribute oxygen efficiently

Covid-19 State Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court hears the Centre’s plan to distribute oxygen in the capital, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta makes a case that  the state government is not doing enough.

DELHI- The Centre, represented by SG Tushar Mehta, submitted a plan to the Supreme Court on oxygen supply to various states,on the morning of May 6, 2021. Mehta argued that large quantities of oxygen that have reached Delhi on May 5 have not been distributed. He added that if they continue to supply Delhi “beyond rationale” it will deprive other states of equitable distribution. 

“Any deficiency in other states may lead to adverse consequences beyond the control of the Centre,” said Mehta according to live updates. He reiterated that the demand for 700 metric tonne (MT) oxygen is not correct. 

SG  Mehta called for an oxygen audit saying that it is a “must” and said that there is a possibility that there might be “lacuna” on the part of the State as well. Justice Chandrachud asked Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, if the supplied oxygen is not being lifted. Advocate Mehra submitted that the Delhi government received 555 MT of oxygen and not 730 MT as claimed by the Centre. 

Sumitra Dawra, officer from the Centre’s oxygen supply department said that 490 MT was allocated previously and another 30 MT came from Kalinganagar in Jaipur. Dawra added that another 100 MT is being specially allocated from Reliance Industries’ Jamnagar plant, Gujarat. The Supreme Court special branch headed by Justice DY Chandrachud sought “a comprehensive plan” from the Centre on the logistics of oxygen supply when the Centre had moved the apex court against a contempt notice issued by the Delhi High Court for not being able to supply the capital with 770 MT of oxygen as promised.

Justice Chandrachud directed the Centre to ensure the supply of 700 MT to the state as healthcare professionals are in complete fatigue. “If you make an error in policy framing, then, you will be held responsible for it,” said Justice Chandrachud to SG Mehta, according to reports. 

On the question of providing a buffer stock to Delhi hospitals, SG Mehta replied that except a few major hospitals that raised SOS calls for oxygen, most of these were not Covid hospitals. To this the judge  said that their requirement has to be met as well. 

SG Mehta argued that he will be answerable to states about  the 300 MT of oxygen that has been diverted to supply oxygen to Delhi. “What if the audit reveals Delhi needed only 400 MT?”

Justice Chandrachud said the country may soon enter a third wave, as the centre itself has announced and preparing ahead might help in handling the third wave, Justice Chandrachud added.   

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal wrote to PM Modi on May 6 2021 expressing gratitude “on behalf of the people of Delhi for supplying 730 MT for the first time yesterday.” He requested that the same amount of oxygen be sent to Delhi everyday. 

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