New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on the production and distribution of oxygen in the country. In this affidavit, the recommendations and suggestions of the 12-member task force constituted by the Supreme Court have been told to the court. But the part of the affidavit that is getting the most controversy is the interim report of the Committee for Oxygen Audit of Delhi.
On May 8, a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud of the Supreme Court constituted a task force to improve oxygen distribution in the country. At that time the second wave of Corona was wreaking havoc. There was an outcry over oxygen. Now the task force constituted by the court has appreciated the steps taken by the Center during that time. It is said that the way the use of industrial oxygen was stopped. The production of medical oxygen was increased through other producers including the steel industry. It was the right step taken at the time of crisis.
The task force has recommended to increase oxygen production in 18 major cities of the country. It has also been said that there should be 100 metric tonnes of storage in these cities. Apart from this, the task force has also recommended to keep a buffer stock of 20 percent of the normal oxygen requirement of the states. It can be used in times of emergency.
The Union Health Ministry has also attached the interim report of the Oxygen Audit of Delhi as an annexure to this affidavit. On May 8, the court had constituted a committee for this. In this, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, Max Healthcare’s Sandeep Budhiraja, besides 1-1 senior IAS officers of the Central and Delhi Government were included.
According to the report, this committee was informed by the Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organization (PESO) that Delhi had additional oxygen available. It could have been supplied to other states. Continuously giving more oxygen to Delhi could have affected 11 other states, where corona cases were very high. According to the hospital bed capacity, Delhi needed 289 metric tonnes of oxygen. But he demanded up to 1140 metric tons of oxygen.
However, this report is contradictory in the sense that when Delhi’s oxygen demand was so low, why did the committee later reduce it from 700 to 500 and then to 400 metric tonnes? The Supreme Court has termed the estimation of oxygen demand from the hospital bed capacity formula wrong. But in the interim report, the demand data has been kept on the same basis. Apart from this, the data of all the hospitals in Delhi is also not in this report. The Delhi government has raised objections to the committee on these points. That letter has also been attached as an addendum to the affidavit.
Apart from this, a letter from committee member Dr. Sandeep Budhiraja has also been attached as an addendum. This letter shows that the formula based on which the committee calculated the oxygen demand of each hospital, and there was a difference between the actual consumption. It was found that the oxygen consumption of 214 hospitals was close to 490 MT. After this, the committee recommended giving 500 metric tonnes of oxygen daily to Delhi.
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