'How many more have to die?': Karnataka HC condemns Centre over oxygen supply policy after 24 die in Chamarajanagar

FP Staff
·4-min read

The Karnataka High Court condemned the central government for allocating only 865 tonnes of oxygen against the state's requirement of 1,700 tonnes. "How many more people have to die? After two days you will increase quota? Where there are less cases, oxygen supply is more. Is there any justification? Tell us when you are going to increase quota...You want people to die? the court asked the Centre, as per Bar and Bench.

"'We are putting you on notice. We want a yes or no answer whether you will increase the cap on supply of oxygen to 1700 MT. Let your officers know that there is an incident of people dying due to lack of oxygen. State of Karnataka is recording the highest number of cases everyday," the bench said.

The bench made the remarks while hearing PILs related to COVID-19 issues to take note of the deaths in Chamarajanagar district Regular hearing of these PILs was originally posted for 5 May.

MN Kumar, appearing for the Centre, said a decision will be taken tomorrow. To which the bench responded that the supply must be increased today and that it can't wait as "people will die".

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"Supply of Oxygen has to be increased, as of today there is a shortfall of 900 MT per day of oxygen," the court told the Centre, as per Live Law.

The court further suggested that a judicial probe be conducted by a retired high court judge into the incident in Chamarajanagar where 24 died allegedly due to lack of oxyen, according to several media reports.

"The incident that happened at Chamarajanagar is very serious. Around 24 people died. Advocate General, we suggest that there should be a judicial inquiry into the incident bya retired judge of the high court," a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar stated, as per Live Law.

Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi told the court> a senior IAS officer had already gone to Chamarajanagar to find out more and added that the preliminary report would be produced before the court tomorrow.

"The state will not hesitate to punish those who are responsible...The state wants to find out the persons responsible for the lapse (of oxygen). If there was any lapse, we don't want to repeat it. We have no problem with the judicial inquiry," Navadgi said, as per Bar and Bench.

The matter will be next heard tomorrow.

This comes on the same day that the oxygen crisis deepened in certain parts of Karnataka including the state capital with hospitals openly raising concern over the gap in oxygen supply.

Reports emerged that Belagavi hospitals are also on tenterhooks due to oxygen scarcity. A few medical centres in Bengaluru too have raised an alarm against the oxygen shortage to treat the critically ill COVID patients. An executive of the Chaitanya Medical Centre in Yelahanka said there was an oxygen crisis on Monday due to which they had to shift all their COVID patients to other hospitals.

"Now we have got the stock of oxygen, which would last for two to three days, but yesterday we shifted all our patients to other hospitals as the stock had exhausted," the executive said. Medax Hospitals in RT Nagar here had also flagged the shortage of oxygen. In his letter to the relatives of the COVID patients, the medical director of the hospital Dr Srihari R Shapur wrote that the facility was running out of oxygen and asked them to make necessary arrangements in other hospitals.

"This is to inform you that we are running out of oxygen supply. We are unable to provide oxygen care for the patient. We have been informed since May 1 6 pm. We will shortly run out of oxygen by 5 pm on May 3. Kindly arrange for beds in different hospitals. We regret this situation," Dr Srihari stated in the letter. Rajmahal hospital too wrote to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike stating that the vendor company was not supplying oxygen despite repeated requests.

"In this scenario, managing 30 plus COVID patients is becoming a challenge. We need your immediate intervention and assistance to tide over the situation," the manager of the hospital said in it. The Bengaluru Rural MP D K Suresh too expressed concern over the paucity of the life-saving gas in Rajarajeshwari Medical College in the city.

In his video message on Monday, he asked Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to arrange oxygen for the COVID patients. The COVID scenario has become grim with the state reporting over 40,000 cases per day. On Monday itself, over 44,000 people tested positive for COVID. As many as 239 people died on Monday alone taking the toll so far to 16,250. The city is reporting over 100 deaths daily ever since the second wave of COVID hit the country.

With inputs from PTI

Also See: Karnataka: 24 dead at Chamarajanagar district hospital due to oxygen shortage; govt denies claim

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