By LE Desk

New Delhi, April 24: The Delhi high court has asked all the hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi facing shortage of oxygen to first approach the nodal officer of the city to meet the requirement of medical oxygen.

A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, while hearing fresh pleas yesterday by two hospitals facing shortage of oxygen, was informed by the Centre that it has set up a control room to coordinate with the nodal officers of state governments for management of oxygen supply.

“We would expect all hospitals in the NCT of Delhi to approach the nodal officer Mr. Udit Prakash and such other officers… in the first instance for the purpose of meeting their requirement of oxygen,” the court said. The bench said if the requirements are not met even after contacting the nodal officer, the hospitals shall contact senior advocate Rahul Mehra and lawyer Satyakam, before approaching the court, the Hindustan Times reported.

During the hearing, the court also asked the Centre to consider the request of the Delhi government to allocate its medical oxygen from plants located in nearby states in contrast to the far off places like West Bengal and Orissa.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, told the court that the problem of shortage of oxygen can be solved if the oxygen comes from the state of Uttar Pradesh instead of far off places like West Bengal and Orissa. He requested the court if this allocation can be reworked so that they can get oxygen from nearby states.

He also told the court that the city has received 380 metric tonnes of medical oxygen out of the 480 metric tonnes allocated by the Centre, contending that the deficiency of 100 tonnes will take time to be met, as the supply is coming from two eastern states.

The court noted that though there has been some improvement in oxygen supply in the last few days, there is still a shortfall of about 100 metric tonnes, adding that the Centre had earlier assured the court that 480 metric tonnes will reach Delhi, but even after three days, it has not. “Whatever was allocated should be there,” the court observed.

It said that the matter of allocation has been done by the Centre considering several factors. However, the Empowered Group can explore the suggestion of relocation to reduce the distance from the point of production to the point of supply. “However, in case the Empowered Group is of the view that the allocation needs to remain unchanged, it may at least consider making interim arrangements till the Railways are in a position to transport from the aforesaid three plants,” said the court.

“The same would make the process of transportation to and fro more efficient since shorter trips mean that the same cryogenic tankers would make repeated trips if necessary for making supplies during the day,” said the court, as reported by HT.

It asked chief secretary of Delhi to examine the allocation plan and make suggestions to be placed before the central government and its Empowered Group on Friday itself. It further ordered the Empowered Group to examine the suggestion at the earliest.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, informed the court that a control room comprising of secretary-level officers of the Government of India will be a part of the process, with whom the nodal officers can get in touch. He said that this is being done so that the Centre can intervene whenever there is any obstruction of oxygen transportation by local authorities.

He said that the central virtual control room set up last year has been further strengthened in the wake of the raging pandemic.

The court, taking note of the submission, told the hospitals to contact the nodal officer (special secretary Udit Prakash for Delhi), who in turn will directly co-ordinate with the officers in the control room for smooth and continuous supply of oxygen.

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