The oxygen audit team appointed by the Supreme Court has blamed the AAP government for seeking 4 times more medical oxygen than it actually used during the April 25- May 4 period, when the second COVID-19 wave was at its peak in its report. This report stated that Delhi required approximately 300MT oxygen but the Kejriwal government raised this demand by about 4 times to 1,200MT.
The report states the difference in the oxygen usage data is due to "a poor understanding of demand calculation". The team informed the apex court that supply of excess oxygen to the national capital is likely to have impacted supply to 12 states with high caseload since the supply needed for other states was diverted to Delhi.
It further found that oxygen tankers could not be offloaded at several hospitals including LNJP and AIIMS since their tanks were already at 75 per cent capacity.
The panel recommended a "strategy to manufacture oxygen locally or in the neighbourhood for big cities to fulfil at least 50 per cent of their oxygen demand as road transportation is vulnerable," adding it could be done on a priority basis in Delhi and Mumbai due to the population density in both the metro cities.
The panel further noted that all 18 metro cities in the country should be oxygen self-dependent with at least 100MT storage in the city itself. After oxygen shortage in Delhi hospitals became a national issue, the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah ordered the appointment of a 12- member task force to look into the issue and sought an audit report on the same.
Back in May, the SC bench upheld the Delhi High Court order and asked the Centre to maintain supply of 700MT of oxygen to Delhi even as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apprised the top court of a survey conducted across 56 major hospitals in Delhi on May 4. The survey cited by SG Mehta revealed that these hospitals had a substantial stock of liquid oxygen. This bench was appointed after the Kejriwal government warned of oxygen shortage.
In April end-early May, massive shortages of oxygen, hospital beds and essential medicines needed to treat COVID-19 patients were reported in Delhi. This led to a conflict between the AAP government and the Centre.
Edited by Mehak Agarwal
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