In a special hearing at 8 P.M on April 21, the Bombay High Court objected to Centre’s communication which cut down oxygen supply in the State and directed that the supply should continue as before.
The communication dated April 18 issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Welfare reduced the oxygen supply to Nagpur from a plant in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh) to 60 metric tons from the original 110 metric tons. “..The communication dated 18.4.2020 has hit the State of Maharashtra as a bolt from the blue,” said the Bench of Justices SB Shukre and SM Modak.
The court took strong exception to this and said, “In this situation of emergency poignantly enveloping a region which accounts for almost 40% Covid patients of the entire nation, the communication from the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs should have been to the effect of increasing the supply of liquid oxygen to the State of Maharashtra from the present practice of 110 metric tons per day to somewhere between 200 to 300 metric tons per day.”
Unfortunately, the things have been turned in a ‘reverse manner’ and it has affected very severely ill Covid patients in the State of Maharashtra and in particular the Vidarbha Region, stated the visibly upset Bench.
“…we direct that notwithstanding the communication dated 18.4.2021 issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, PRAX AIR – Bhilai shall continue to supply 110 metric tons of liquid oxygen to the State of Maharashtra until further orders,” directed the court.
The Joint Commissioner has been instructed to make sure that there is no break in the supply of oxygen to all hospitals in Nagpur. “In case any Covid hospital runs in short supply of oxygen, we would request that hospital to bring this fact immediately to the notice of the Joint Commissioner, F.D.A., Nagpur and also the Collector, Nagpur”, ordered the court.
Earlier on April 19, the court had directed the Government to provide 10,000 vials of Remdesivir to all hospitals across Nagpur to treat Covid-19 patients. However, the Bench was livid at the responses of the Government officials. LiveLaw quoted the Bench saying, “If you don’t feel ashamed of yourself, we are feeling ashamed of ourselves for being part of such a nasty society. We are not able to do anything for the helpless patients of Maharashtra. You don’t have any solution?”
The court recorded, “On 19.4.2021, we had directed the authorities at the helm of affairs to release and provide to Nagpur not less than 10,000 vials of Remdesivir and that was directed to be done without wasting any time and almost within a few hours of passing of the order. However, the order was not complied with fully, but the brighter side of non-compliance, if we may say, is that some vials indeed have been released and allocated for being used for the treatment of serious Covid patients.”
The court lauded the efforts of the Divisional Commissioner, Nagpur after he informed the court that Covid treatment facilities are being set up with a capacity of 1,000 to 1,500 beds. “This is a laudable step now being taken by the administration of the Commissionerate. We request the Divisional Commissioner, Nagpur to expedite creation of this hospital and it would be quite advantageous if the said hospital can be made functional in next 15 to 20 days”, said the court.
The matter will be taken up on April 23.
The order may be read here: