India is in the grips of a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. However, the pandemic’s devastation is nowhere more pronounced than in the national capital Delhi, one of the worst-hit cities by the contagion. For the last few days, Delhi has registered more than 20,000 new cases daily, putting a tremendous strain on the city’s health infrastructure. The crisis, nevertheless, has brought to fore the criminal incompetence and ineptitude of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government.
Oxygen supplies in Delhi are running short, there is a paucity of remdesivir, a key antiviral drug. Besides, there is also a big shortage of beds for patients in Delhi hospitals.
Perhaps among all the problems facing Delhi, the oxygen shortage is the most acute one. A few days back, with the crisis unfolding right before his eyes, Kejriwal chose to tweet about the issues besieging Delhi rather than taking actions on the ground that would have prevented the outbreak from assuming catastrophic proportions. Rather than developing a system to cater to the newfound demand for oxygen, Kejriwal resorted to Twitter to request state governments and the Centre to provide the Delhi government with additional supplies of the gas.
Here are the tweets, Kejriwal posted on Twitter requesting for oxygen:-
Instead of proactively acting on the matter, Kejriwal kept tweeting about the issue, as if the problems were going to solve on their own. Even as other governments were putting mechanisms in place to deal with an unprecedented situation, Kejriwal gleefully sat on the issues, not taking appropriate measures to prepare for the impending crisis.
As a result, hospitals in Delhi faced severe shortages of oxygen supply. Despite the central government’s additional allotment of oxygen, hospitals in Delhi kept complaining that they were suffering from oxygen shortages. Many hospitals took to the Delhi High Court against the Delhi Government’s inept handling of oxygen scarcity.
Despite clearance for 8 PSA oxygen plants, Kejriwal government sets up only 1
The Delhi HC slammed the AAP government for setting up only 1 PSA oxygen plant despite being granted funds for 8 such plants. While he tried to deflect the blame of oxygen shortage on the Centre, Union Health Ministry informed the Delhi High Court last Tuesday that the central government had sanctioned funds from PM CARES Fund to Kejriwal Government in December 2020 to set up eight PSA (Pressure Swing Absorption) oxygen plants in Delhi. However, since December, only one such plant has been set up by the Kejriwal govt.
Hospitals in Delhi slam AAP government, allege they don’t understand oxygen supply chain
On Saturday last week, the Delhi Government was rapped in the Delhi High Court during the hearing on the supply of medicinal oxygen to hospitals. The Delhi Government was rebuked by advocate Sachin Dutta appearing for Jaipur Golden Hospital, Solicitor General SG Mehta and also by the Court itself.
“Whole day yesterday we called your officers, they didn’t do anything. Over 25 people died because we didn’t have the oxygen supply. We are literally gasping for breath,” Advocate Dutta told Rahul Mehra, who was representing the AAP government.
Kejriwal government has also been accused of reneging on its promise of delivering oxygen supplies which ultimately led to the deaths of critical patients. Earlier yesterday, Dr Baluja of the Jaipur Golden Hospital said that no oxygen was supplied despite written assurance from Delhi Govt, after which patients died.
It is worth noting that more than six months ago, in his Independence Day speech on 15th August, Arvind Kejriwal had said that the Delhi government will start sending oxygen concentrators to homes of Covid-19 patients even if they have recovered. However, as has been the case, the promise made by Kejriwal was never fulfilled as the hospital in Delhi struggled in getting the supply of medicinal oxygen.
In such testing times, when hospitals are jockeying for oxygen supplies to help COVID-19 patients in their fight against the infection, one expects the state government to be sensitive and helpful. However, in a staggering display of apathy, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia yesterday said that hospitals in Delhi raised unnecessary oxygen-shortage alarms.
The Delhi government got slammed yet again by the hospitals during a hearing in the Delhi High Court. The hospitals lambasted the Delhi government for its poor handling of the oxygen supplies, alleging that they had no understanding of the oxygen supply chain.
“Enormous SOS calls were made. They arranged something from the AIIMS but it was minutes late. There is shortage and uncertainty. Delhi government doesn’t understand the supply chain,” Senior Advocate Sachin Dutta, representing Jaipur Golden Hospital said in Delhi HC.
Court asks Kejriwal to figure transportation of oxygen, Delhi CM instead resorts to tweeting
The biggest problem as identified by the counsels representing the hospitals and the central government was not the supply of oxygen but the Delhi government’s brazen disregard for its transportation arrangements. Kejriwal invested all his energy in pleading and requesting oxygen, even giving widespread media ads, but his government did little to arrange transport or institute a mechanism for effective rationing and supply of the vital gas based on the needs.
While other states started receiving oxygen through oxygen express, the Railways was yet to receive requisition from the Kejriwal government for the transportation of oxygen.
After Kejriwal’s government was eviscerated in the Delhi High Court, one would have expected the AAP supremo to address the transportation issues bedevilling the supply of oxygen in Delhi. However, hours later Kejriwal did what he does best—tweet.
He continued posting tweets on Twitter, feigning concern that he is greatly invested in solving the oxygen crunch faced by the city’s numerous hospitals. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal posted a tweet, asking chief ministers of other states to supply oxygen to Delhi if they have in spare. The court had asked his government to figure out the transportation of oxygen from different places to Delhi’s hospitals, but the AAP chief was busy scoring political points on social media.
Bed unavailability and shortages of remdesivir takes a back seat as AAP busies itself tackling the oxygen crisis
It is noteworthy to mention that the AAP government’s singular focus in the last few days was only on oxygen shortages in Delhi. Senior AAP leaders, including chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, spoke little about the availability of beds and supplies of remdesivir, a key antiviral drug to combat COVID-19.
People in Delhi kept scrambling for beds to admit their relatives afflicted by the coronavirus. Many of them even needed remdesivir injections as hospitals were running short of them. Social media website were replete with distress messages from people asking for beds and remdesivir injections. But Arvind Kejriwal was preoccupied with tweeting only on oxygen supplies as if the scarcity of beds and remdesivir did not even exist. In fact, Kejriwal’s negligence on remdesivir is astounding as he did not even bother to tweet once on the availability of stocks of the critical injections.
Delhi CM spends Rs 150 crore on advertisements as the resurgent coronavirus wave was preparing to strike again
Kejriwal has also been accused of utilising the public exchequer funds for self-promotion even as Delhi continued to be battered by the subsequent waves of coronavirus outbreak. Since the start of the pandemic back in March 2020, Delhi has been among the regions most susceptible to the virus outbreak. Yet, the Aam Aadmi Party government, instead of scaling up the fragile health infrastructure in the city, invested a whopping Rs 150 crores in advertisements in the first three months of 2021.
An RTI reply dated April 08 has revealed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government has spent Rs 150 crores from January 2021 to March 2021 on advertisements and publicity through various mediums. For the Kejriwal government, keeping Delhites safe from the menace of COVID-19 was not on its priority list. It was more interested in advertising and marketing itself.
Delhi is in the midst of a catastrophic crisis. The COVID-19 cases are surging at an alarming rate, posing a risk to the city’s already overwhelmed healthcare infrastructure. However, not all is lost. With the help from the central government and judicial intervention, the pandemic would be tamed. The resilience of the people will eventually conquer the tenacity of the virus. And when it does, the people of Delhi will not forget the cruel incompetence, the gross negligence and the misplaced priorities of the Delhi government that immensely contributed to the outbreak.