The Delhi High Court on Thursday (April 22) directed the Central government to create a separate corridor for transporting much-needed oxygen tankers for COVID patients and provide security cover to the supplies.
The court said the Centre should ensure that Delhi receives its full 480 metric tonne quota of oxygen. It said non-compliance “will be seen very seriously as this is likely to result in grave loss of life.”
At the end of a three-day hearing where the Centre’s actions drew strong reprimand, the court ordered the release of Delhi’s full quota of oxygen. Criminal action will be taken against anyone stopping tankers or obstructing the movement of oxygen, the judges said. The High Court made it clear that it would continue to hear the issue till the Supreme Court takes over.
Referring to the appeal filed by another hospital whose oxygen supply ran out on April 22 morning, the court said: “We shudder to think what is going to happen. Literally all hospitals are facing this issue”.
“There should be strict compliance of the allocation order of 480 MT (of oxygen). Non-compliance will attract criminal action,” the court said.
“We direct the Centre to ensure adequate security to the tankers and no obstruction on the way and a special corridor for immediate transportation of oxygen,” the court said, adding, “if the government wants, they can make heaven and earth meet”.
For the Delhi quota of oxygen, suppliers have been allotted from states as far as West Bengal and Odisha, the Delhi government has said.
Meanwhile, in a meeting called by Prime Minister Modi on April 22, officials informed him that an elaborate exercise is being carried out in coordination with states in order to identify their demands of the gas and ensure supplies. “Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT/ day of Liquid Medical Oxygen, the Government of India has from April 21, allocated 6,822 MT/ day to these states,” a statement said.