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‘Why is Govt not waking up to reality?’: Delhi HC slams centre over oxygen crisis

Source: Twitter @Khushbookhan_

New Delhi: Pulling up the central government on the lack of medical oxygen in hospitals the rapid rise in coronavirus cases, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that this is an emergency of grave nature.

Hearing an urgent application regarding the shortage of oxygen at Max hospital, the court asked the government why isn’t it taking the matter seriously.


“Why the government is not waking to reality?” asked the court.

“How is this that the government is so oblivious to the ground reality? We can’t have people dying? Yesterday, we were told you were trying to import. What happened to that?” asked the court. This is an emergency of such grave nature, the court added.

The judges sought to know that why the Centre isn’t diverting oxygen from petroleum and steel industries to give to Covid-19 patients who are in dire need of it. “Even if these industries are run at lower capacity since medical oxygen is needed, heavens are not going to fall. But with the stoppage of oxygen at this stage hell will break loose,” it said, calling the Centre’s decision to not stop the supply of oxygen to the industries as “completely ridiculous”.

“If Tatas can divert oxygen they are generating for their steel plants to medical use, why can’t others? This is the height of greed. Is there no sense of humanity left or not,” the bench added.

“We don’t care, beg, borrow, steal or requisition new plants if you want,” said the judges asking the Centre to fulfill the hospitals’ need of oxygen, critical for treatment and recovery of Covid-19 patients.

Noting that several people died due to no oxygen supply in a Nashik hospital on Wednesday, the court said that the industry can wait for several days for oxygen supply but here the current situation is very delicate and sensitive. For the uninitiated, the central government has banned the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes except nine specific industries from April 22.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, told the court that oxygen has been delivered at two of the Max hospitals – at Patparganj and Shalimar Bagh. He said that more oxygen is on its way and will reach the hospital shortly. “I have spoken to the highest authority, all efforts are being made to get oxygen supplied,” said Mehta.

On Tuesday, the Delhi High court had directed the central government to cut down on industrial use of oxygen and deliver it to hospitals that are treating coronavirus patients. The court also slammed the government for delaying the decision to ban till April 22. “The need for oxygen is now. Any delay in this regard would lead to the loss of precious life. We see no justification for implementing the order from 22nd of April,” the court had said.