Delhi govt, Centre lock horns over ‘inflated’ oxygen demand during COVID

An SC-appointed panel says city govt sought a supply four times more than they needed, Delhi Deputy CM says there’s no such report

The panel said the Delhi government’s "exaggerated" requirement affected oxygen supply to other states. File Photo

A report on the “gross discrepancy” in the consumption of medical oxygen during the peak of the second COVID wave in Delhi pushed the city government into a clash with the Centre on Friday (June 25).

A Supreme Court-appointed oxygen audit committee has said that the Delhi government sought four times more of the life-saving gas than what was required.

However, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday (June 25) denied the existence of any report by the Supreme Court-appointed Oxygen Audit Committee.

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“The Delhi government’s claim of 1,140 metric tonnes was four times the calculated consumption as per bed formula, which was 289 MT only,” said the interim report submitted by the audit committee to the apex court.

The committee is headed by AIIMS director Randeep Guleria and includes Delhi government’s principal secretary Bhupinder Bhalla, Max Healthcare director Sandeep Buddhiraja and joint secretary of Union Jal Shakti Ministry Subodh Yadav.

Also read: IIT-Kanpur team lists out possible COVID 3.0 scenarios

The committee said the Delhi government’s “exaggerated” requirement affected oxygen supply to other states.

The panel identified four hospitals – Singhal, Aryan Asaf Ali, ESIC Model and Liferay – that had made high, yet erroneous claims of liquid medical oxygen consumption.

“The claims appeared to be clearly erroneous leading to extremely skewed info and significantly higher oxygen requirement for Delhi,” the report said.

Also read: 25 patients die at Delhi hospital due to low-pressure oxygen supply

The panel said that after “recalculation”, while the “actual consumption of 183 hospitals as per data from Delhi government was 1140 MT,” the actual consumption “after correcting erroneous reporting by 4 hospitals” was 209 MT.

The claim is supported by Delhi government data which says that the oxygen consumption was limited to 350MT between April 29 and May 10.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia at an online press briefing accused the BJP of lying about such a report.

“There is no such report. We have spoken to the members of the Oxygen Audit Committee formed by the Supreme Court. They said they have not signed or approved any such report.

“The BJP is presenting a false report that it prepared at its party headquarters. I challenge them to present such a report which has signatures of the members of the oxygen audit committee,” Sisodia said.

By doing this, the BJP is not abusing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, but “those who lost their family members due to oxygen shortage when coronavirus cases were at its peak, he said and accused the Union government of mismanagement “which led to the oxygen crisis”.

Delhi was hit severely by a brutal second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in April and May, claiming a massive number of lives daily, with a shortage in oxygen supply at various city hospitals adding to the woes.

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