Beg, borrow or steal, we can’t let people die: HC tells govt on oxygen shortage in Delhi hospitals

Looking at the health emergency that erupted due to the scarcity of oxygen at various hospitals in the national capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Centre and AAP government to fulfill the demands while saying “Beg, Borrow or Steal but these demands have to be met.”

“Beg, Borrow or Steal but these demands have to be met. It is their fundamental right, and it is our bounden duty to help them,” said a division bench of the high court presided by Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.

The observations were passed while the court held an urgent hearing an urgent plea filed by Max Hospitals in Delhi seeking urgent replenishment of Oxygen supply so that lives of over 1,400 COVID patients who are admitted to the hospital are not endangered.

The bench said that the Centre shall explore all possible alternatives to ensure that all hospitals in the national capital get Oxygen.

The court posted the matter for further hearing tomorrow after noting the stand of the Centre that there will be unobstructed supply of oxygen to Delhi.

“We hope that the requirements of hospitals and oxygen supply will continue to COVID patients and others until we take up the matter tomorrow,” the bench said.

The bench also directed the Delhi government to initiate the logistical work for the supply of the quantity of oxygen which is said to be not allotted out of the allocated quantity.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who joined in the second leg of the hearing which began at 9:20 p.m. informed the bench that the supply is on its way.

Sumita Dawra, Additional Secretary, responsible for Oxygen supply, appearing before the court apprised the bench, “We also allowed industrial cylinders to be used for medical purposes, after due purging. Industrial tankers were also used for medical purposes. Today we are in a position to use industrial oxygen because of the decision taken last year. Country’s production capacity, both industrial and medical around 7,200 Metric Tonne a day. Requirement is over 8,000 MT now.”

She further told the bench that stocks from steel plants are added for medical use.

Responding to her submissions, the bench said, “We appreciate steps taken to divert oxygen. But today you said, plants can use captive oxygen produced by them. It is the responsibility of state to arrange. You cannot say we can arrange this much and people have to die. We cannot accept that. We cannot see people dying because oxygen is not available.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta along with Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma and Advocate Monika Arora appeared for the Centre while Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra and Advocate Satyakam appeared for the Delhi Government. Senior Advocate Sandeep Sethi represented the petitioner (Max Hospitals).

The bench will be hearing the matters again tomorrow at 3:00 PM.
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