A war of words has broken out between states ~ such as Delhi and Haryana or UP ~ as well as between the Centre and states over the acute shortage of medical oxygen for Covid patients in hospitals.
Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia alleged that an official of the Haryana government stopped oxygen supply to Delhi from a plant in Faridabad. Sisodia said the AAP government had been demanding that the Centre increase Delhi’s quota of oxygen from 378 metric tonnes to 700 metric tonnes.
The central government, which decides the quota of oxygen for states, is yet to take a step in this direction, Sisodia said at a press conference. “We again demand that the Centre increase our oxygen quota to 700 MT in view of the increased consumption. Patients from several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, are admitted in city hospitals,” Sisodia said.
He claimed that an official of the Haryana government stopped oxygen supply from a plant in Faridabad. A similar incident took place in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.
This led to a crisis in some hospitals, Sisodia said, adding the oxygen supply had been restored now. The Delhi government demands that states should get their allotted share of oxygen without others interfering into it, he added.
Several hospitals in Delhi on Wednesday alleged that the Haryana government was not allowing vendors to supply oxygen to them and there is only limited stock left as hundreds of coronavirus patients battled for their life in these healthcare facilities. According to an official, Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital had five hours of oxygen left around 4.30 pm.
There are 58 Covid patients, including 10 in ICU, in the hospital. “The vendor, as per its representative, is not being allowed by the Haryana government to supply oxygen cylinders and liquid oxygen to Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital, Pusa Road. Supply left is sufficient only for five hours,” the official said.
He said the Centre needs to intervene as a large number of hospitals are affected due to the “stoppage of oxygen supply from Haryana”. A spokesperson of St Stephen’s Hospital said they had only two hours of oxygen left around 4 pm. “The Haryana government has not been allowing our vendor to supply oxygen to us. Of the 350 patients in the hospital, around 200 are on oxygen support,” he alleged.
However, the Haryana government rejected such allegations, saying that no one in its administration had hampered anything. Earlier in the day, Haryana health minister Anil Vij alleged that a tanker carrying medical oxygen for Covid patients in state hospitals, which was going from Panipat to Faridabad, was “looted” by the Delhi government and said all oxygen tankers will now move with a police escort. Vij also said given the increased demand for oxygen due to a surge in coronavirus cases, Haryana can spare the supply for others only after the state meets its own demand.
Vij told reporters, “Yesterday, one of our oxygen tankers was going from Panipat to supply to hospitals in Faridabad. When it was passing through Delhi, the tanker was looted by the Delhi government which is very wrong.” “If governments indulge in such things, then it will result in chaos,” Vij said, adding that he has now ordered that all oxygen tankers will move with a police escort so that such incidents do not happen in the future.
“But to take out gas from a tanker in this manner is highly condemnable,” he said. “We will write to Delhi government officials about this incident.”
The minister further claimed that pressure was being put on the state to give medical oxygen to Delhi. He said the two neighbouring states from which Haryana earlier used to get the oxygen supply have currently stopped it to meet their own demand.
“We also used to get supply from Baddi in Himachal Pradesh and Bhiwadi in Rajasthan but the governments there have stopped the supply now. In our plants in Haryana, I have deployed officials and police because we want to first meet our requirements. Pressure is being put on us that we should supply to Delhi. We have no problem in doing so if we have spare supply, but our first priority is Haryana,” Vij said.
In a statement, however, the Delhi government said: “It’s indeed unfortunate that states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are curtailing the supply of live-saving oxygen to Delhi.” “Just as the Haryana government, the Uttar Pradesh government has illegally captured the oxygen production plants, depriving Delhi of oxygen,” the Delhi government said. “What’s worse is that they’re indulging in this insensitive act despite clear