“We want the Centre to supply 700 metric tons of Oxygen to Delhi and we mean business. This is just not my view; it is the joint view of the Bench. We will clarify this in the order,” said Justice Chandrachud to the Central government while hearing the issue of shortage, reported LiveLaw.
The Supreme Court’s order will be reportedly uploaded in a few hours but he reiterated that it is the Centre’s responsibility to supply 700 metric tons of oxygen to Delhi. “Solicitor, we want 700 MT to be supplied to Delhi on a daily basis. Please don’t force us to be in a situation where we have to be firm,” Justice Chandrachud reportedly remarked.
Justice MR Shah told the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, “We had made it very clear that we wanted 700 MT. We said that yesterday (May 6).”
While considering the Central Government’s petition against the Delhi High Court’s contempt notice to its officials for failing to secure a 700 metric ton supply of oxygen to Delhi as directed, the Bench of Justices Chandrachud and MR Shah had (again) directed the Centre to supply the same quantity and place a comprehensive plan to explain how they will sustain this demand and supply chain. The court had stayed the Delhi High Court’s order initiating contempt but also noted that Delhi was in a critical state and was not receiving adequate supply, as SabrangIndia had previously reported.
LiveLaw reported that SG Tushar Mehta informed the Court on May 6, that by the end of the day on Wednesday (May 5), 730.7 metric ton of oxygen had been received by the NCT of Delhi, as per the Delhi Government’s report. He submitted that in view of this large quantity which has reached Delhi, the National Capital is in ‘excess’ of oxygen now. “I know for a fact that it has not come to be distributed as yet. It is important to point out that after this huge supply, unloading is taking long, which is increasing the turnaround time for the tankers,” he said.
During this hearing on May 6, Tushar Mehta apprised the court that on May 4, Delhi received a supply of 585 metric tons and the Centre received no complaints of shortage. “A survey of 56 major hospitals of Delhi, including Batra, Fortis, Ganga Ram, was carried out on May 4 between 8 and 8:45 PM. It revealed that the current stock available with these hospitals is 280 MT (without including the re-fillers), the average daily consumption is 290 and the storage capacity is 478. All hospitals in the survey are using LMO. This reveals that there are significant stocks available with the hospitals”, he had said, based on a LiveLaw report.
Justice Chandrachud reportedly lauded the efforts of the Centre, but wanted to understand the process of transportation. He said, “It appears you gave 700 to Delhi yesterday (May 5). We appreciate the efforts that your officers have made to comply with our orders overnight. We like the spirit in which it has been achieved in the last 24 hours. But (as per Sumita Dawra, Additional Secretary to the GOI in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade), the next time it reaches 700, it will be on May 10 because of the turnaround time of the containers. The supply will fall to 560 in the next 2 days due to the container issue…now, the storage capacity of the 56 hospitals is 478. After accounting for the refill cylinders, the total storage capacity comes to 665. To what extent is the storage capacity availed of? It must be empty right now?”
The SG explained to the Bench that this is an ongoing process and that the storage capacity is not empty or filled at all times. LiveLaw reported that the SG said that it may be ‘plus or minus’ every two hours.
For this reason, the Bench stressed on buffer stock of oxygen supply as Delhi might receive 500 metric tons in the next few days because of the unexpected turn around time of the containers carrying oxygen. Through its order on April 30, the Supreme Court had suggested that while the Central and State Governments are in the process of managing the supply of oxygen, it is also critical that a buffer emergency stock of oxygen is created so that in the event that the supply chain is disrupted to any one or more hospitals in an area for any reason, the buffer or emergency stocks can be used to avoid loss of human lives, as SabrangIndia had previously reported.
Yesterday, Justice Chandrachud pressed, “There will be a two-day lag when 700 will come down to 560 because of the container issue. Are there any buffer stocks to deal with this situation? How will Delhi manage without full supply? Buffer stocks would have taken care of the situation when panic is created when hospitals say they are left with just 1 hour or 2 hours’ worth of stock.”
LiveLaw quoted Justice Shah adding, “Every hospital starts sending in SOS calls that they have 2 hours or 3 hours of stock left. If there are buffer stocks, there would be no difficulty. In our April 30 order, we have said that buffer stocks should be created by the midnight of May 3.”
(To be updated with order)