Consider Delhi govt request to allocate oxygen from plants closer to capital: HC to Centre

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The Delhi High Court Friday directed the central government to consider Delhi government’s suggestion of allocating it medical oxygen from plants located in nearby states in place of its allocated supply of 100 MTs from Linde’s plants in Odisha and West Bengal.

The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli ordered the Delhi Chief Secretary to examine the allocation plan and make suggestions to be placed before the central government and its Empowered Group on Friday itself. It further ordered that the suggestion may be examined by the Empowered Group at the earliest.

“However, in case the Empowered Group is of the view that the allocation needs to remain unchanged, it may at least consider making interim arrangements till the Railways are in a position to transport from the aforesaid three plants,” said the court.

The court said that though there has been some improvement in oxygen supply in the last few days, there is still a shortfall of about 100 MTs in as much as Delhi is receiving only about 380 MTs of medical oxygen as opposed to its allocated supply of 480 MTs per day.

It also said the Centre through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had earlier assured the court that 480 MTs will reach Delhi, but even after three days, it has not. “Whatever is required, should be there,” observed the court.

Advocate Rahul Mehra earlier told the court that the shortfall is primarily because Delhi has been allocated 100 MTs oxygen from Linde’s three plants in West Bengal and Odisha, and submitted that the allocation could be reworked so that Delhi could get oxygen from shorter distances.

The court said the matter of allocation is something that has been undertaken by the central government and it believes the same is being done taking into account relevant facts and circumstances, including the requirements that have to be met across India. However, it asked SG Mehta whether the Empowered Group could look at the possibility of relocation so as to reduce the distance from the point of production to the point of supply.

“The same would make the process of transportation to and fro more efficient since shorter trips mean that the same cryogenic tankers would make repeated trips if necessary for making supplies during the day,” said the court.

SG Mehta told the court that the suggestion could be looked into and submitted that a competent officer from the Delhi government could send a communication in this regard which would then be considered at the appropriate level.

The court on Friday also said that it expects all hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi to approach Delhi government’s nodal officer Udit Prakash and other officers, whose names and numbers will be circulated by the Delhi government, to meet their requirements of oxygen.

It also said that for the purposes of refilling oxygen cylinders, nodal officers and refilling agencies named in an order issued by the Delhi government may be contacted. “However in case the requirements are still not met, before preferring a petition before the court, Mr Satyakam (advocate) and senior advocate Rahul Mehra may be contacted who have generously offered their services,” the court added.

Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre and Bram Health Care Private Limited, which runs NKS Super Speciality Hospital, had on Friday afternoon filed petitions before the court seeking urgent intervention with regard to their depleting medical oxygen stock. The court directed both the Centre and Delhi government to take necessary measures in relation to all hospitals that are serving Covid patients and are in need of medical oxygen.

The court on Friday also asked whether CNG cylinders could be converted for storage of gaseous oxygen. “If that could be done, the storage capacity which is presently in use for the storage of CNG, particularly that which is mobile, could be utilised for transportation of medical oxygen and providing the same to hospitals on immediate basis,” it said, asking the counsel to seek instructions in this regard and inform it on Monday.

SG Mehta earlier told the court that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has impressed upon Chief Ministers not to interfere with the free flow of oxygen transport. He also told the court that intervention of paramilitary forces could not have been an answer to the obstructions being caused by local authorities in transportation of oxygen. The court was also told that a virtual central control room has been established by the Centre to monitor the medical oxygen situation in states.

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