Supply 490 MT oxygen to Delhi or face contempt: HC to Centre

4

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Saturday warned the Centre of initiating “contempt proceedings” against its administrators if it delays the supply of 490 MT oxygen allocated to the national capital even for a single day.

A bench comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli directed the Central government to ensure that Delhi receives its allocated supply of 490 MT oxygen “positively today (Saturday), by whatever means”.

“Considering the fact that Delhi is not an industrial state and does not have the availability of cryogenic tankers of its own, which could be requisitioned under the Disaster Management Act like the other states have done, it falls upon the Central government to arrange the tankers as well, so that the allocation made to Delhi could be fulfilled, lest it remains only a paper allocation,” the court noted.

The court said that the Central government shall ensure the availability of cryogenic tankers as well as the said supply.

The high court said that the allocation to Delhi, which was 480 MT earlier and has now been raised to 490 MT, has not been fulfilled even for a single day.

In case, the court said, this order is not implemented, the “concerned officers of the Central government viz Piyush Goyal and Sunita Dawra shall remain present during the hearing on May 3”.

“Looking at the situation, we make it clear that we may even consider initiating contempt proceedings in case of non-compliance. Amit Mahajan shall ensure communication of this order to the concerned officers forthwith,” the court ordered.

The high court gave the direction after taking a serious view of a statement made by S. Bankata, Executive Director of Batra Hospital, that there was a delay in delivery due to which oxygen supply was interrupted for about an hour-and-a-half, which led to the loss of eight lives on Saturday, including a doctor of the hospital.

Taking into account the loss of lives, the high court said: “Water has gone above the head. You have to arrange everything now. You have made the allocations. You have to fulfil them. Eight lives have been lost. We can’t shut our eyes to it.”

The court had earlier recorded the submissions made regarding the tragic incident at the Batra Hospital in the Mehrauli area of the national capital that was reported at around 12.45 p.m. on Saturday.

This was the second time in a week that the hospital ran out of medical oxygen. On April 24, the hospital had received a last-minute supply which arrived minutes after its oxygen reserves ran out.