May 8, 2021 9:56:35 am
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday asked the Centre to work out a supply plan that ensure that the already allocated quota of oxygen reaches Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh before it is too late. Hearing a petition on Covid-19 surge in the two states and the UT, the HC was told by Punjab that it required 300 MT of oxygen whereas only 227 MT had been allotted to it by the Centre.
“State requires 300 MT oxygen whereas the Centre has allocated to it 227 MT oxygen which is also not reaching the state,” the Punjab AG Atul Nanda submitted, adding that it also required 2.64 crore doses for vaccination of 18-45 age group. Punjab also said that sufficient number of containers had not been allotted to transport oxygen.
Haryana government’s counsel, Baldev Raj Mahajan, Advocate General, Haryana also submitted that the state is facing extreme shortage of oxygen despite the fact that it has a plant located at Panipat which is manufacturing 260 MT.
“Instead of allowing Haryana to get the supply from the plant at Panipat for the facility of transport as well as timely replenishment, it has been allocated far off places like Rourkela and Jamnagar etc. Resultant delay has led to several deaths in Haryana as well,” he submitted.
Similarly, Chandigarh Senior Standing Counsel, Pankaj Jain, also submitted on the similar grounds that, even UT is now facing difficulty in procuring the required quantity of oxygen.
On the contentions of the counsels of three states, when questioned by HC, Satya Pal Jain, Additional Solicitor General of India, representing the Union submitted that the allocation of oxygen is being done equitably to all the states in the country.
Amicus Curiae, Senior Advocate Rupinder Khosla, pointed out that there was severe shortfall in supply of oxygen to all the three states within the jurisdiction of this High Court.
“The allocated quantity of oxygen is either not being supplied or has been allotted from very distant places, such as, Rourkela and Jamnagar etc., timeline for which is not conducive. By the time the arrangements are made, the states are virtually left starving of oxygen, resulting in many deaths,” he contended.
The division bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh directed Centre “to consider reorientation of the supply of oxygen from various plants in such a manner that the allocated quantity reaches the respective states before already allotted quota is exhausted to avoid loss of life”.
The HC bench said, “It appears that all three states, at this stage, are not seeking enhancement in the quantity of oxygen allotted to them, but are aggrieved by delay in supply thereof. As a result of late delivery, allocated quantity of oxygen is not able to reach the states well in time. We, thus, feel it necessary to direct Government of India to consider reorientation of the supply of oxygen from various plants in such a manner that the allocated quantity reaches the respective States before already allotted quota is exhausted to avoid loss of life.”
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