By LE Staff

New Delhi, May 6: The allocation of oxygen across India, till now based on the number of beds and ICU usage, needs a complete revamp that takes into account evolving needs like home quarantine and ambulance usage, the Supreme Court told the Centre today. It also called for a complete audit of the system so as to give it a pan-India view that fixes accountability once stocks are released.  

A bench, led by Justice Chandrachud, also asked the Centre its plan of action for the third surge of the pandemic, which the government on Wednesday said is inevitable. The bench told solicitor general Tushar Mehta to explain how prepared the Centre is to deal with the third wave of the pandemic.

Hearing the matter of the government’s plan for oxygen allocation in the face of shortages faced by various states, especially Delhi, the bench, also comprising Justice MR Shah, said the Centre’s existing formula based on the number of beds requires a complete revamp, NDTV reported.

“When you prepared the formula, not everyone wanted to go into an ICU. Many required oxygen at home. The Centre’s formula does not take into account transportation, ambulance, and Covid-care facilities,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“We need to look at the issue pan-India…an oxygen audit is necessary. What is the accountability once stocks are released?” the court asked, taking into consideration the logistics that follow the allocation and the modality for distribution to hospitals.

Mentioning the potential for a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bench sought to know what preparations were being made for such an eventuality, the Hindustan Times reported.

“When the third wave comes, how will you deal with it? What is the plan? Suppose containers not available, what can be done?” the court asked the Central government, to which the Centre replied: “The Supreme Court can guide us.”

Justice Chandrachud said in the impending third wave, children might be affected and when a child goes to a hospital, his parents will also go. So, the vaccination of this group of people needs to be over by that time, Justice Chandrachud said.

To Justice MR Shah’s question on tracking the oxygen supplied to states — about how to ensure the supplies are used for black-marketing — the Centre said the state governments are tracking their usage.

“Uttar Pradesh has placed GPS on tankers…In Mumbai, tracking tankers is happening in real time,” the Centre said.

The Supreme Court had yesterday directed the Centre to submit a plan for ensuring Delhi received its quota of around 700 metric tonnes of oxygen per day.

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