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Timely action could have avoided tragic incidents: Centre to Delhi govt amid oxygen crisis

The letter has also flagged that the government was aware of the limited capacity of hospitals to store liquid oxygen but did not address the issue.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: April 27, 2021 10:32:54 pm
Oxygen, Delhi covid casesThe Delhi government earlier argued that the central government has “miserably failed the country” and sought higher oxygen allocation. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Amid continued shortage of oxygen in Delhi hospitals, the Centre has blamed the Delhi government for the crisis, accusing it of mismanaging the situation. In a letter written to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev on April 25, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that its efforts “have not been up to the mark” and timely action could have “avoided tragic incidents”.

Acknowledging the crisis facing the country in terms of shortage of oxygen tankers, Bhalla’s letter has said that all states have made diligent efforts to procure tankers.

“However, Delhi government has hardly been able to arrange any tankers so far though many crucial days have passed since the Government of India made allotment of oxygen. You are requested to urgently take immediate action in this regard as is being done by Chief Secretaries and other officials of other States/UTs,” the letter states.

It adds that Delhi was allocated 480 MT of LMO on April 21, but it received less supply due to logistical issues which have not been addressed by the AAP government.

“While other States/ UTs have been making earnest and professional efforts to solve all logistical issues and are being actively aided by Government of India officials… efforts of Delhi Government have not been up to the mark,” the letter states.

The letter states that the Delhi government had directed INOX (one of the main suppliers of oxygen) to supply 98 MT Oxygen to 17 hospitals in the city. INOX had earlier been supplying 105 MT to 45 hospitals in the city. The letter has alleged that alternative arrangements for the rest of the 28 hospitals were not properly made by the Delhi government.

“As a result, some of these hospitals have been complaining about severe shortage of medical oxygen and one hospital mentioned that some persons died because of it. This could have been avoided had proper, effective, and meaningful consultations with various stakeholders, specially the suppliers and recipient hospitals, had been done well in time by Delhi government,” it said.

The letter has also flagged that the government was aware of the limited capacity of hospitals to store liquid oxygen but did not address the issue.

“A virtual meeting with all hospitals in Delhi, taking stock of their respective capacities and infrastructure, guiding them to suitably augment their storage/pressure facilities to the required level with the help of experts of the field would have avoided tragic incidents,” the letter states.

It adds such things are to be immediately taken up proactively and on a war footing with the state government taking the initiative.

“The state government shall consider creation of an effective control room and such other initiatives and proactive steps to manage this unprecedented crisis in the most scientific, effective and professional manner… In these difficult times, it is extremely important that the central government and the governments of various States/UTs work in tandem to tackle this Covid crisis and minimise human suffering. Therefore, I will request you to take urgent, effective, innovative and result oriented measures like Chief Secretaries of other States/UTs have taken,” the letter has said.

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