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Covid-19: Delhi High Court directs Centre to remedy shortage of oxygen

The bench asked the Delhi government to use the funds to provide food and other essential commodities to the migrant labourers.

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The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Central government to look into the shortage of supply of oxygen in the hospitals in the national capital at a time when the cases of Covid-19 are rising on an alarming rate.

A division bench of the high court presided by Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli asked the Centre to examine the supply of oxygen in diffrent states and see if supplies can be diverted from states with less cases to the ones witnessing a surge in the COVID-19 cases including Delhi.

It further directed the firm, which used to supply oxygen to Delhi hospitals and has suddenly stopped, to restore the oxygen supply immediately.

This was after the court was informed by Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, that the supply of oxygen was diverted to another state.

The said directions came in while the bench was hearing a petition by Advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increase in the COVID-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.

The plea which was disposed of in January this year was today reinstated by the court in view of the sharp rise in the number of cases of novel Coronavirus in the national capital.

“The matter was disposed of on 14 January 2021 thinking that the COVID-19 pandemic is limping down but it has raised its ugly head again and is raging with much greater intensity…Keeping in view the aforesaid position and at a time when it’s clearly evident that the health infrastructure is at stage of collapsing immensely, we have reinitiated this petition,”

-the court said.

The court has asked both the Centre and Delhi government to to file affidavits by Tuesday disclosing hospital-wise availability of beds for COVID-19 patients here.

It has also asked both the Modi and Kejriwal government to also give details as to how many hospital beds are with or without ventilators and oxygen support.

The matter will now be heard on Tuesday i.e. tomorrow. The bench also halted the decision of the Delhi goverment to penalize the testing labs if they don’t deliver the results of COVID-19 tests within 24 hours.

Also Read: Lockdown in Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Kanpur: Allahabad HC says UP govt didn’t plan for the pandemic despite last year’s outbreak

During the course of hearing, petitioner Rakesh Malhotra told the court that Home Collection of COVID-19 samples is closed.

“People have to go to labs to get tested and there is a long line of 500-700 people Negative patients catch infection and converted in Covid positive while they wait outside,”

-Malhotra said.

“You are not living in outer space, you know what is happening. The medical infrastructure is being stretched to its maximum,” the court responded.

However, Malhotra later clarified that he wasn’t criticising the same but was bringing to the court’s notice that the AAP government has said that if the labs delay the reports by 24 hours they would be penalised.

Coming down heavily on the government, Justice Sanghi said,

“Telling you by personal experience, the doctors running labs are under sheer pressure. Is this is way to deal with the situation? There is unending flood of people.. why do you want to put such conditions.”

While the matter was being heard through videoconferencing the bench noted that one major aspect where both the Centre and AAP government has “failed miserably” is that of providing food to migrants.

Also Read: Government opens up Covid-19 vaccination for all above 18 from May 1

“We would like that lesson are taken from past lockdown….Thing in which both the governmenrs have failed miserably was migrant labourers. They were not getting food and that’s the reason they chose to go back,” the bench said.

“We’ve been seeing reports about migrant labourers going back.. with imposition of curfew, the daily wagers are again faced with a grim reality. On the last occasion, civil society had come forward. We may say that we found that State failed to utilise thousands of crores lying in its account under teh building workers act,”

-it said.

Following these observations, the bench asked the Delhi government to use the funds to provide food and other essential commodities to the migrant labourers.

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