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As Covid-19 cases surge in several states, Solicitor General tells SC that other states will suffer if Delhi is supplied more oxygen

The diversion of Oxygen to Delhi seems to be beginning to adversely affect other states such as Rajasthan, J&K, Punjab, Gujarat, Jharkhand etc, which have seen significant increase in active cases in last 2 weeks

During the hearing on oxygen supply to Delhi in Supreme Court today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that if oxygen is provided to Delhi as per the demand of the Delhi govt, other states will suffer. He said that if the centre supplies oxygen to Delhi in excess, other states who need it will not get it.

He said that the demand of Delhi govt for 700 MT of oxygen per day is not a factually correct position, if this quantity is supplied to Delhi, other states will suffer. It may result to adverse consequences in other States beyond the capacity of Centre, he added.

However, the court rejected this argument, and insisted that the central govt must deliver 700 MT oxygen daily to Delhi till Monday.

To this, the SG said that if the centre is forced to give 700 MT to Delhi, they will have to take it from other states. But the Delhi govt advocate Rahul Mehra objected to it, listing out names of states which have got oxygen as per their demand. Amicus curiae Jaideep Gupta also said that the daily allocation to Delhi should be retained at 700 TM till a new formula for calculating oxygen allocation is prepared.

Although both the Supreme Court and the Delhi govt is instating on 700 MT oxygen per day, the argument of the SG that other states will suffer due to this seems to be correct. It may be noted that the demand by Delhi is almost four times the other states are using for a similar number of active Covid-19 cases. For example, while Mumbai was using around 240 MT oxygen for around 90000 active cases, Delhi was demanding 700 MT for a similar number of active cases, and later raised that demand to 976 MT per day, and was using almost double of what Mumbai was consuming.

Even the Supreme Court had noted that Delhi is using much more oxygen compared to Mumbai for similar number of active Covid-19 cases.

Due to the increased pressure from the courts, the central govt is increasing the oxygen supply to Delhi, and yesterday 730 MT was supplied after the Delhi High Court threatened to proceed with contempt of case against the central govt if the amount is not supplied. But this has started to affect the supply in neighbouring states as oxygen has been diverted from those states to Delhi.

The diversion of Oxygen to Delhi seems to be beginning to adversely affect other states such as Rajasthan, J&K, Punjab, Gujarat, Jharkhand etc. These states have reported significant increases in active Covid-19 case counts compared to 2 weeks ago, with the case count more than doubling in J&K and Rajasthan. But the active case number remained stable in Delhi during this period.

State / Union Territory21-04-202128-04-202105-05-2021
Jammu and Kashmir13,47022,28337,302
Jharkhand33,17851,25259,707
Punjab36,70951,93661,935
Rajasthan85,5711,55,1821,97,045
Gujarat84,1261,33,1911,48,297
Delhi85,36499,75290,419
Active Case Count

On 5th May, Rajasthan Medical & Health Minister Raghu Sharma said that the State was getting 200 metric tonnes less than its requirement of liquid oxygen. A day before that, the Rajasthan CM had said that that “most people” are in need of oxygen, ICU and ventilator beds.

Jharkhand is already supplying Oxygen to Delhi, but the state is beginning to feel shortage. As per media reports, at least seven districts in Jharkhand have Oxygen shortage. In Ranchi, some private hospitals stopped taking patients, according to district officials, and oxygen was also in short supply in Jamshedpur, where several hospitals stopped taking in new patients despite having vacant Covid beds. Similarly, several hospitals in Haryana also have reported oxygen shortage.

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