ILNS: As the Delhi High Court bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli continued its hearing of petitions from hospitals and on other issues regarding the shortage of beds, drugs, and oxygen supply, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there were suggestions of the army being called out and to arm mohalla clinics with doctors, as the first line of defence.
Delhi lawyer Rahul Mehra suggested meetings every day to sort out issues. It was also suggested that NOCs (from TPAs and insurance companies) be expedited for discharged patients to make way for new patients.
About the oxygen shortage, advocate Vineet Malhotra said that in the National Capital Region, there are small plants where one can get cylinders filled now. “After yesterday’s order, the police is after them.” Then there was the issue of injections and drugs. “Patients are not getting injections. It was mooted that a set maximum price may be prescribed. “Milord I needed an injection for my Mom, but I got it for Rs 5 lakh in black. That is the fact,” said Malhotra.
Senior Advocate G. Tushar Rao said: “The Delhi Government has mohalla clinics. Would be a very good option for the first line where people may be checked whether they require hospitalisation.”
Krishnan Venugopal, Senior Advocate, said: “The big problem in Delhi is it has become law of the jungle. People start to bribe people and somewhere one person brought a gun in Apollo hospital and fired. A very large number of beds are being cornered by people who do not even need them.”
Justice Sanghi said: “This is not like that… doctors will not admit someone who don’t need an ICU bed. How do we verify?”
Venugopal said: “In this situation the army should be called in. As far back as 2008 they estimated 1,19,000 beds, but they now have seem to have only 54,000.”
Justice Sanghi: “We wonder if the Delhi government can call for armed forces.”
Venugopal added: “After the permission of the Central government. Today most of the ambulances are being used for cremation, and they keep standing at the crematoriums. Public places associated with crematoriums or other may be used for cremation. DTC buses may be used for taking the bodies to the crematoriums.”
On the mohalla clinics, Mehra said: “Mohalla clinics are at small crowded places, would not be able handle so much of people. A central number like 101 (helpline) may do the needful. A large number of doctors may be called upon. Any doctor with an oximeter and thermometer can refer.”
Justice Sanghi: “Mr Mehra it is a very good suggestion, the doctors may be called upon.
Rahul Mehra: “I will put it before the health secretary and get back tomorrow.”
Venugopal: “On the point of the army, Mr Mehra May put it before the health secretary.”
Justice Palli: “Mr Mehra you should explore.”
Rahul Mehra: “There is DRDO and ITBP.”
Rakesh Malhotra, petitioner, said: “There is an aircraft that can generate oxygen.”
G Tushar Rao, Senior Advocate said: “It is the Tejas Aircraft that can make (a lot of) oxygen in minutes. The Medical Oxygen Plant (MOP) technology was developed for on‐board oxygen generation on the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.”
Senior Advocate Malvika Trivedi: “Individuals are not being considered for the cylinders and medicines.”
Justice Sanghi: “Mr Rahul Mehra look into this, otherwise where would they go?”
Mehra: “We are allowing them. We have asked them to bring Aadhar Card and prescription.”
Malvika: “There were individual shops, now they are also denying. There is a shortage of beds, so people are being treated at home. What will they do?”
Rahul Mehra: “Rajasthan government has taken over my friend’s unit with excess capacity, now he is unable to help.”
J Sanghi: “I understand where you are coming from.”
Mehra: “This is the fourth day, the problem remains the same people with excess supply are unable to help. A war room has to be set up.”
Additional Secretary MHA, Piyush Goyal: “Milord every state is facing the shortage.”
Justice Palli: “Mr Goyal how many states are facing the problem like Delhi? You are not doing anything.”
Justice Sanghi: “Today you want oxygen from 2 states. You go through with the war room.”
The discussions showed that there was hardly any source of oxygen from any other state. And tankers would take five days to fill. Justice Palli asked why, because this had to be done on a daily basis.
Justice Sanghi: “Mr Mehra, you have said that you have a buffer of 20 Metric Tonne?”
Rahul Mehra: “This is for the SOS Situation.”
Justice Sanghi: “You may keep 10MT and other can be used.”
Justice Sanghi: “How many cylinders it can fill?”
Rahul Mehra: “Up to 100 cylinders.”
J Sanghi then asked the refillers to come online. There were 192 participants.
The judge finds the refillers have not come, except one. The judge asked them to be present at the police station and said that the court was issuing warrants.
It was found that most of the refillers had actually run away when the court wanted them before it. Some had been persuaded to come.
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Naresh Gupta, a refiller, was asked why others did not come. Gupta said he will inform the others. It was stated that for refilling, hospitals will have to wait 4-5 hours, but individuals have to wait 10-12 hours.
It was decided that all refillers of Delhi will meet the chief secretary of the state in the evening.