Delhi HC asks Centre of steps taken to deal with COVID second wave peak, terms it ‘Tsunami
NEW DELHI: Delhi High Court on Saturday pulled up the Centre and Delhi government for passing the buck, in the middle of a pandemic and directed them to ensure smooth supply and distribution of oxygen to hospitals in the national capital. The court said that persons with low immunity might succumb to the virus but the present problem is, people who could have been saved are also dying.
“The mortality rate needs to be reduced,” the bench, referring to a study by a team of IIT scientists which says India may experience the peak between May 11-15, with 33-35 lakh total active cases.
“We are calling it a wave, it is actually a tsunami,” the court said. It asked the Centre how prepared it is in terms of infrastructure, hospitals, medical staff, medicines, vaccines and oxygen for the peak. It also asked the Centre when the 480 metric tonne (MT) of daily oxygen allocated for Delhi would see the light of the day. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said there might be a rapid rise in May and June and the country needs to be ready for the worst.
He explained how the government is working round the clock to import oxygen supply and exploring possibilities of generating oxygen.
The court was hearing submissions by the counsel for Delhi’s Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Jaipur Golden Hospital, Batra Hospital and Saroj Super Speciality Hospital over shortage of oxygen for treating seriously ill Covid patients. “States are arranging tankers. We are just assisting them. But in Delhi, everything is put on us. Delhi officials have to do their job,” the Centre said.
“I know many things. But am not saying. Let’s try and not be a cry baby,” Mehta said in response to Delhi government lawyer Rahul Mehra’s complaint that the Centre was not complying with allocation guidelines.
During the hearing, the court also questioned the Delhi government officers what steps they have taken to get the supply of oxygen allocated by the Centre. The court observed that while the tankers are ready to be transported by train, Delhi government had not been able to make arrangements.
“In case security arrangements are required, Delhi Police shall provide the same to the hospitals facing oxygen shortage,” the court added. “We know how people react (when they lose their loved ones). Let’s not have a law and order situation,” the court said.
Judges warn of stringent action against violators
During the urgent hearing on Saturday, the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli warned that it will ‘hang’ any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals.
It meant that if reports of blocking the way of oxygen-carrying vehicles come to the fore, stringent measures will be taken against those found guilty. In the past few days, several state governments have complained of such incidents.