'We Mean Business': Delhi HC Threatens Centre With Contempt Over Oxygen Supply to Capital

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The Delhi High Court on Saturday warned the Centre to supply 490 metric tonne of allocated medical oxygen to the national capital today itself “by whatever means” to treat critical Covid-19 patients or face contempt. Taking cognisance into the deaths of eight patients in Batra Hospital due to lack of oxygen supply, the court told the government, “Do you mean we will shut our eyes to the people dying in Delhi. Now the water has gone above our head. Now we mean business. Enough is enough!"

Meanwhile, the Centre immediately increased the oxygen quota of Delhi from 490 to 590 MT.

In a strongly-worded statement, the court said the government had made an allocation of oxygen to Delhi and should fulfill it. “It falls on the central government to arrange tankers as well as it only remains a paper allocation. The allocation to Delhi has been in force from April 20 and not for a single day Delhi has received allocated supply,” the court noted.

“If order is not implemented, concerned authority to remain present in the Court on the next date of hearing. We may even consider issuing contempt proceedings,” the high court said, adding, “We direct the Centre to ensure that Delhi receives its 490MT oxygen supply today by whatever means. Delhi is not an industrial state. It doesn’t have cryogenic tankers.”

The high court has declined the Centre’s request to adjourn the hearing till Monday when its officers would explain the ongoing situation.

Earlier in the day, eight Covid-19 patients, including the HOD of gastroenterology department, of Batra Hospital in Delhi died due to oxygen shortage, officials said. “We are trying to revive five other critical patients,” said Dr S C L Gupta.

Hospitals across the national capital had sent out SOS messages last week about depleting supplies of oxygen. The Delhi government has maintained that the city is not getting its allocated quantity of the life-saving gas.

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