Amid the mad and hurried clamber for oxygen in most parts of the country, the Delhi government on Thursday submitted data before the Delhi High Court that said while oxygen provided to the national capital by the Centre was short of the target, some states, on the other hand, were getting more oxygen than what they had actually asked for. The High Court for the first time on Thursday said that it would want to have the Centre’s view on allocation.

Is there a bias in oxygen supply?

During the hearing, the Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta repeatedly insisted the High Court that Delhi’s submissions about the alleged discrimination shall not be recorded as it is the Centre who can resolve the crisis. To this argument of the Solicitor General, the court simply said that the ‘Government cannot duck this matter.’

The Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli while answering to Mehta’s argument said, “We cannot accept this. We are very clear about this. We are living here. It is people close to us who are not getting beds and oxygen. You are aware of it. We have heard about Haryana people dying, we have heard people in Meerut dying because of oxygen not being available and we have heard about Delhi. We are getting so many calls for arranging beds and oxygen.”

Mehta while representing the Central government said, “The Delhi government did demand 700 metric tonnes. The allocation through the government is around 480-490 metric tonnes. The actual quantity coming to Delhi is 335-340 metric tonnes, which according to our assessment at the official level is a sufficient quantity.”

He added that more tankers are being imported in order to transport oxygen across the country, also it is a matter of few days and once the logistical issues get settled, the Centre will provide the states with whatever maximum supply is possible. He further said we should not panic as this is a crisis situation.

To this argument, the court replied that the panic is because of lack of resources and because of what judges or lawyers say. The panic is on ground. People are suffering but hospitals are not taking patients. We already had loss of lives in Delhi due to the shortage of oxygen.

With this, the court also issued notice to all oxygen suppliers of the national capital asking them to be present before the court with detailed data on supplies made by them to different hospitals.

Delhi’s revised oxygen demand:

During the mapping conducted through video conference meetings between 11 April to 14 April, the different states were requested to indicate their medical oxygen-based requirement projections on the basis of active number of corona cases in the country.

During that time, Delhi government projected that it would need around 300 metric tonnes of oxygen daily by 20 April, 349 metric tonnes by 25 April, and 445 metric tonnes by 30 April. Similarly, other states too mentioned their demands according to the need of the state.

As per the projections, the Centre mapped their supplies, however, Delhi later revised its estimates from 300 metric tonnes to 700 metric tonnes as the COVID cases were continuously rising in the capital.

Delhi’s revised oxygen demand. (Photo credit: The Print)