Updated: April 23, 2021 11:12:50 pm
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday asked Nagpur regional authorities to consider requisitioning oxygen plants of a steel factory in Maharashtra for supply of medical oxygen.
The court asked the Nagpur authority to consider requisitioning empty oxygen cylinders from various entities which can be used to fill oxygen and supplied to COVID-19 hospitals across the region. “There shouldn’t be a gap between demand and supply,” it said.
The court also appealed to medical practitioners to scrupulously follow SOPs on prescription of remdesivir as there is a shortage of the drug.
A division bench of Justice Sunil B Shukre and Justice Shriram M Modak was hearing a suo motu PIL drawing attention to the short supply of drugs and oxygen to Nagpur.
Advocate Aditya Goyal an expert on the steel industry, submitted that four plants situated at Bhandara, Thane, Pune and Dolvi (Raigad) have the capacity to produce liquid oxygen in sufficient quantity, and if those plants are requisitioned for catering to the needs of Covid patients, the issue of supply shortage in Maharashtra will be solved in “no time”
The court directed the Nagpur divisional commissioner to consider the application made by Goyal and decide whether such plant at Bhandara can be requisitioned under the Disaster Management Act.
Nagpur District Collector Ravindra Thakare informed the court that as per the last order of the HC, nearly 160 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen was procured from the Bhilai steel plant in Chhattisgarh in the last three days.
He added that a train carrying three tankers of liquid oxygen from Visakhapatnam would reach Maharashtra on Friday evening and five tankers will arrive on Saturday morning. “The information indicates now there is substantial increase in supply to Nagpur, and if it is so, this much quantity can be enough to cater to needs of Covid-19 patients in eastern Vidarbha region including Nagpur. However, despite supply, the problem continues.”
The counsel submitted that the “problem lies in non-availability of empty cylinders for refilling oxygen in sufficient quantity”. “Whatever be the number of empty cylinders in circulation, it is not in sufficient quantity and it is required to be increased and augmented. Needless to say appropriate rent would have to be paid for owners of cylinders requisitioned in public interest,” the HC said.
The HC will hear the PIL next on April 27.
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