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SC asks Centre to prepare for third Covid wave, create buffer of medical oxygen

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The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Centre to start preparing for the third wave of coronavirus pandemic by creating a buffer stock of medical oxygen.

“We may enter stage three and if we prepare today, we may be able to handle it. Whatever stocks procured needs to be sent to the hospitals. It’s not about allocating it to the state but also the logistics to see that it is distributed to hospitals,” Bar and Bench quoted Justice Chandrachud as saying during the hearing of Centre’s response to non-compliance of its direction to supply 700 MT of oxygen to Delhi..


“What is the problem in enhancing the supply (of oxygen)? If it’s not required then it can be stored. But then it can be said that there is no need for oxygen panic. This will be a buffer for Delhi,” he added.

His remark comes a day after Dr K V Vijay Raghavan, the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, said the third wave of Covid-19 was “inevitable” given the high levels of the circulating virus and that they couldn’t predict a time frame for it.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the court that it has ensured a supply of 730 MT to Delhi for treating Covid-19 patients. He also submitted a detailed plan to the court on the procurement and supply of oxygen to various states.

The SG argued that if the Centre supplies 700 MT of oxygen to Delhi then they will have to take it from some other state’s share. “If there is an adverse consequence then we can’t be held responsible because of someone else’s incompetence,” he said.

To this, Justice Chandrachud said the Centre’s formula for allocation of oxygen to states needs a relook while calling for an “oxygen audit” across the country.

On Wednesday, the top court had stayed a contempt notice against the Centre issued by the Delhi High Court over the non-compliance of its direction to supply 700 MT of oxygen to Delhi. However, the court had made clear that it was not stopping the high court from monitoring Covid-19 management related issues.