New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Monday took strong note of black marketing in oxygen cylinders, reportedly being sold at Rs 1 lakh per unit in the national capital for treating seriously ill COVID-19 patients, and asked the AAP government to take action against those indulging in it, saying distribution of gas cylinders is 'your baby'.
With regard to distribution of oxygen cylinders, “there is a major major issue in Delhi”, the high court said while sharing the incident of a senior advocate who had personally informed the judge that people were demanding Rs 1 lakh per oxygen cylinder.
'Oxygen cylinder distribution is your (Delhi government) baby. You have powers, exercise them. If someone is engaging in black marketing, take action. They need to be taken to task. Bring them before us and we will take action,' a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said during three-and-a half hour long hearing on escalating oxygen crisis in various hospitals in Delhi.
The court was informed by the Delhi government counsel that refillers of oxygen cylinders were not providing details of supplies and refills.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said that before taking any action it will need the information from the refillers with regard to the deliveries made by them, but if it sends a show cause notice seeking such details, it is viewed as harsh.
Taking note of this, the bench directed all the refillers of oxygen cylinders in Delhi to be present at the hearing on Tuesday following complaints of non-availability of gas cylinders and black marketing.
The bench said it has received information that refillers were selling oxygen sellers at high rates, like Rs 1 lakh, in the black market and directed the Delhi government to take action against such persons.
The court also directed that refillers have to comply with its earlier order to provide details of the deliveries made by them to hospitals and others, failing which “we shall be compelled to take strict action against them”.
During the hearing, Siddharth Jain, Director of INOX which is a major supplier of medical oxygen to Delhi, informed the court about the difficulties faced by suppliers in making the supplies.
He said his factories are working 24X7 even when a lot of staff members are down with COVID-19 infection.
“When my truck leaves, it is working like a milkman who drops off small quantities of milk at several places. Earlier, it was not this but now the demand is much more than the supply. Our trucks are diverted midway. Why would I not want to give oxygen? It is my business and I am supplying oxygen to Delhi for last 20 years. Nobody has complained except for Delhi hospitals,” he said.
He said some clarity should be given to them regarding supplies and so much of paper work being asked by the Delhi government will affect its functioning in making oxygen supplies.
The court then asked Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev, who was present at the hearing, to hold a meeting with oxygen suppliers, refillers and hospitals and nursing homes during the day to work out a distribution plan.
The bench said that just like the central government has worked out an oxygen distribution plan for the whole country, the Delhi government can have such a plan for the national capital.
It said the meeting could be held in the evening at around 5 pm and asked the authorities to place the resolution before the court by Tuesday. PTI SKV HMP SA