If you cannot manage Covid situation, will ask Centre to takeover: HC tells Delhi govt

The Delhi High court noted that the shortage of oxygen reported by the hospitals is a constant complaint which means "there is some truth in it".

The Delhi High Court Tuesday pulled up the UT government over the alleged black marketing of oxygen cylinders and crucial medicines in the city, saying if the AAP government cannot manage the situation then it will ask the Centre to take over the city’s administration.

Hearing a batch of petitions by Delhi hospitals facing shortage of oxygen, a division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli told the government, “There seems to be big hoarding going and you’re not doing anything.”

The court asked the government to ensure oxygen supply to Shanti Mukund Hospital, which had reached out to the court saying it’s been allocated 2.69 MTs but the supplier has refused to give it anything.

The Delhi government responded that it will issue new allocation order by today evening after Monday’s meeting with suppliers and hospitals. “Oxygen supply is very healthy now. Yesterday we got 407.96 MTs,” the government said.

However, the court noted that the shortage of oxygen reported by the hospitals is a constant complaint which means “there is some truth in it”.

“The cylinder business is in complete mess. People have to buy cylinders from black market at 1 Lakh,” the court said.

“If they (oxygen suppliers) are not falling in line, you please take action. You takeover the plants and put your officers there. Take these people in custody. These cylinders are being sold in black market,” it added.

Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev informed the court that they have requested all suppliers to give details of oxygen tankers arriving at their centre in Delhi, the quota will then be allocated for three days.

The High Court also issued contempt notice to cylinder suppliers who didn’t attend the hearing despite an order in this regard. “You’re ensuring supply to them (cylinder distributers) but you’re not bothered about supply to hospitals?” the court asked the government.

“We have taken over supply chain but there are certain unlawful elements coming from other states. There is not enough remdesivir available,” the government told court.

The court also asked the Delhi government to take over Seth Air Products, supplier of cylinder in Dwarka. “Seth Air appears to be major supplier. Why is it not part of order. We are rather shocked and surprised. There is something fishy. It has 20 MTs of oxygen,” the court said.

The court asked the government tp pull up its socks to to address the redistribution of not only liquid Oxygen but cylinders too. “At present, after supplying tons and tons to these refillers, there is no account being kept how they are further supplying. This is what is leading to if we may say artificial shortage and black marketing. The reluctance of refillers with complying with government orders is for obvious reasons that they don’t wish to maintain transparency.

“If the cylinder suppliers do not provide information on the government portal, strict action would be taken against them not only by Delhi government but by court too,” it added.

“If one vendor who is not even in your order has stock of 20 MTs, then what would be situation with regard to others. What are you doing,” the court said. “If they have to take supply for black marketing, might as well stop their supply. You’ve ample powers.”

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