Delhi High Court Scorns Government over Apathy for Oxygen Supply
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Delhi High Court Scorns Government over Apathy for Oxygen Supply

With the 315,728 new COVID cases reported on 21 April, the critical life saving oxygen crisis is worsening all over the country but media reports highlight that

With the 315,728 new COVID cases reported on 21 April, the critical life saving oxygen crisis is worsening all over the country but media reports highlight that most of the hospitals in Delhi were merely hours away from running out of stock yesterday. In an urgent & timely intervention, the Delhi High Court, while hearing a Max Healthcare plea with regard to urgent need of oxygen, has directed the Central Governmen to forthwith provide oxygen by whatever means to the hospitals in the national capital which are treating serious Covid patients and are facing scarcity of oxygen. A Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, while adjourning the hearing to Thursday afternoon, said responsibility to ensure oxygen supply is squarely on the Union Government shoulders and if necessary, entire supply of oxygen to industries, including steel and petroleum, can be diverted for medical usage. The high court said “We are shocked and dismayed that the government does not seem to be seeing the reality. What is happening? Why is the government not waking up to the reality? Beg, borrow or steal. It is a national emergency. Every 10 days, we have doubled the number of Covid-19 cases and the fact of the matter on the ground is that there is a shortage of oxygen and it is evident to all. It is not that it is artificial or being wrongly projected. It is there. We cannot shut our eyes to it. As a state, you cannot say that look we can provide this much and no more, so if people die, let them die. That cannot be acceptable and that cannot be an answer of the sovereign state. We will have to enforce the fundamental rights of people and direct beg, borrow and steal and do whatever you have to do but you have to do. We cannot see people dying, because people are dying.”

On the Centre’s decision to exempt some industries from the ban on industrial use of oxygen, the Bench said “There is no sense of humanity left or what. What are we looking at? This is really, really ridiculous. You’re concerned about industries at this point of time when people are dying in thousands. One week, two weeks, your industries can wait. It is an emergency of such a grave nature. Human lives are not that important that means for the state? If the result is that those industries have to shut down for some time, till you make alternate arrangements, so be it, because we cannot afford to lose lives. That is the bottom line.”

They said “You have your own state-run steel plants and petroleum industries. Why can’t you curtail it? Why can’t you stop it? Why can’t you minimise it to whatever is absolutely critical? We can understand that you cannot shut down petroleum production completely in the country because it is a critical thing by itself, but you can reduce it. We are sure that if you were to divert their oxygen for medical use, you would be able to meet the requirement. We are shocked and dismayed hospitals running out of oxygen but steel plants are running. 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.”

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