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HC directs Centre, Delhi to setup buffer stock of liquid oxygen in Delhi

The court has also sought a response from the central government on a proposal for deploying Central Industrial Security Forces at the refilling depots of medical oxygen cylinders.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
Updated: May 5, 2021 4:56:29 pm
Noida Authority, Oxygen, RWA, L1 facilities, Sector 93 B Community Centre, Noida news, indian expressFamily members of Covid patients wait to refill their oxygen cylinders at Bhogal in New Delhi (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre and Delhi government to set up a buffer stock of 100 Metric Tonnes (MTs) of liquid oxygen in the national capital within the next three days to ensure supply to hospitals in case of any emergency.

The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said the Delhi government would need to provide the necessary areas where the tanks could be installed and also create infrastructure for the purpose of distribution of both liquid medical oxygen and cylinders.

“Let this aspect be examined and response be placed before this court on Friday,” said the court.

The court also asked the city government to consider taking the assistance of IIT-Delhi and Delhi Technological University to prepare a blueprint for the supply and distribution infrastructure needed to deliver liquid oxygen and cylinders to hospitals within the territory.

Amicus curiae Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao earlier informed the court that suppliers can provide only 480-520 MTs per day and not beyond that. To meet the demand, Rao told the court, it is essential for the Centre and Delhi government to collaborate and prepare a buffer stock of oxygen for emergency use and to ensure supply lines continue to function even in unforeseen circumstances. The court was told that a similar direction has been passed by the Supreme Court on April 30 but no steps have been taken in this regard.

CISF at oxygen refilling stations

The court has also sought a response from the central government on a proposal for deploying Central Industrial Security Forces at the refilling depots of medical oxygen cylinders.

“We direct the Central government to examine this aspect. We may note that Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) is adept at crowd management and, therefore, deployment of CISF at the refilling stations of the re-fillers may be desirable,” said the court, while asking the central government to respond within two days.

Rao earlier told the court that public at large are desperate to secure the cylinders for their near and dear ones, and there are long queues at refill sites. The possibility of a law and order situation arising is imminent, he told the court, adding liquid oxygen itself is explosive and any incident at the sites may lead to loss of lives.

The court also said that the political leadership may consider issuing appeals to the people against hoarding of medicine and gas cylinders. “We are conscious that such appeals may drive some people to give up some of the cylinders, medicines and other equipment that they may have collected, and kept to meet any unforeseen eventuality,” said the division bench.

‘Create cylinder banks’

The court also directed the Delhi government to seriously examine the feasibility of creating oxygen cylinder and medicine banks where people can surrender them on an assurance that they would be provided the same in case the need arises.

“We may note that such an assurance is even given by the Blood Banks, who receive blood donations. Let the feasibility and modalities of setting up of such cylinder/ medicines banks at different locations in the NCT of Delhi be examined and the plan and be placed before the Court in 2 days,” said the court.

It has also directed the ICMR to suggest the manner in which the mohalla clinics in Delhi could be put to use for COVID management.

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