The Delhi High Court on Wednesday tore into government's handling of the oxygen crisis that several states, including the national capital, have been witnessing amid a huge wave of Covid cases. Hearing a petition by the Max Hospitals, the court questioned how the government can be oblivious to the disaster unfolding every hour.
"Why Centre not waking up to gravity of situation? We are shocked and dismayed hospitals running out of oxygen but steel plants running," the high court observed.
"Responsibility squarely on Central government shoulders to ensure oxygen supply to hospitals for patients," a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.
Referring to the decision by Tata Group to supply oxygen from their steel plants for medical use, the Delhi High Court questioned what's stopping other top industries to take similar action at such unprecedented times.
"If Tatas can divert oxygen they are generating for their steel plants to medical use, why can't others? This is height of greed," the court said.
The court asked concerned authorities to divert oxygen from industries for medical usage wherever needed. Responsibility squarely on Central government shoulders to ensure oxygen supply to hospitals for patients, it said.
"The steel and petrochemical industries are oxygen guzzlers and diverting oxygen from there can meet hospitals requirements," the court said, adding , "If necessary, divert entire production of oxygen from industries including steel and petroleum for medical usage."
Earlier in the day, the Centre said of the total 7,500 metric tonnes of oxygen being produced in India per day, 6,600 metric tonnes, as on date, is being allocated to states for medical use and assured that efforts are being made to increase its supplies in the coming days.
At a press conference, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul appealed to the states, hospitals and nursing homes to ensure rational use of oxygen as it was a "life-saving" drug for coronavirus infected patients.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "We are producing 7,500 metric tonnes of oxygen per day of which 6,600 metric tonnes is being allocated to the states for medical purposes.
"Presently, we have issued instructions that, leaving a few industries, the supply to industries will be restricted so that more and more oxygen can be made available for medical use," he said.