The Supreme Court-appointed audit panel’s findings have stated that while the entire country was struggling for an adequate supply of medical oxygen during the peak of the second wave, Delhi’s AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal had exaggerated its demand up to 4 times.
The constant appeals by Kejriwal, his ministers and their attempts to gather political mileage by claiming Delhi is not being allocated enough oxygen by the central government, had resulted in Delhi getting the bulk of the supplies, even much more than it actually needed. All this while, other states had to wait in line for the supply of LMO.
A study by PESO, mentioned in the audit panel report, had found that While states like Rajasthan, UP, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Punjab suffered a shortage of tankers and containers, 4 Delhi containers were parked at INOX Surajpur as the supply was excess and there was no place to store that much LMO.
It stated that the actual requirement for Delhi was much less than it was demanding.
As several Delhi hospitals had more oxygen than they actually needed, the overall speed of decantation increased, it kept increasing turnaround time for suppliers like RIL Jamnagar to get their containers back and refill them to send again.
The interim report also highlighted at that time that Delhi was neither auditing its actual usage, nor assessing its realistic demand so as to allow the central government to reallocate to other states in Northern India that had actual need of LMO tankers in hospitals.
As per the audit panel’s report, the Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organisation (PESO) study conducted between 5 May and 11 May had found that about 80% of Delhi’s major hospitals had a stock of LMO for over 12 hours. Average daily consumption was found to be between 282 MT to 372 MT and Delhi had no adequate storage facilities for 700 Mts of LMO that was demanded at that time.
It is notable here that after the Arvind Kejriwal-led government had claimed LMO shortage, a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had directed the Union government to maintain the supply of 700 MT of oxygen to Delhi even as the centre had presented a calculation devised by experts to fix the requirement at 415 MT of LMO.
The report also notes that since May 9, the Kejriwal government was trying to get alternate storage space in neighbouring states as they had run out of storage space for LMO. They had even lifted lesser amount of LMO (150 MT) than was allocated to them from Air Liquide company because of lack of storage facilities. They had even asked the company to store LMO for them in their plants at Panipat and Roorkee.
Not just that, the AAP government had caused plants like Linde and JSW Jharsuguda in Odisha to hold their tankers and delay supply to other states because they (Delhi govt) had not lifted the available and allocated tankers or had returned tankers due to non-availability of storage space in hospitals. Goel Gases had informed that as Delhi hospitals are full of required oxygen and have no additional storage space available, their tankers are waiting longer, resulting in shortage of supply to other states.
Delhi government had created a massive hue and cry, alleging the central government’s negligence and had even blamed other states for holding up Delhi’s oxygen. Kejriwal had even gone so far as to brazenly break protocol and televise video footage from a confidential meeting of CMs with the PM where he was seen pleading that Delhi needed oxygen badly. So much was the Delhi government’s political and media noise that the Supreme Court had to intervene.