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Innocent Admission

SC panel: Delhi exaggerated O2 demand by 4X at Covid2.0 peak

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New Delhi, June 25, 2021 (Agency) A Supreme Court panel constituted for oxygen audit of Delhi has found numerous gaps in the Aam Aadmi Party government’s claims for 700MT medical oxygen during the peak of the second Covid wave.

The panel said the Arvind Kejriwal government exaggerated its demand of medical oxygen four times more than required, and if it were to continue then it could have created a crisis for other states.

A report submitted by the oxygen audit sub-group said: “There is a gross discrepancy (about 4 times) in that the actual oxygen consumption (1,140MT) was about 4 times higher than the versus calculated consumption formula for bed capacity.”

The report added that four hospitals in Delhi — Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, Model Hospital, and Liferay Hospital — have claimed extremely high oxygen consumption with very few beds and the claims appeared to be clearly erroneous, leading to extremely skewed information and significantly higher oxygen requirement for entire Delhi.

Following “recalculation”, the panel contended the actual consumption of 183 hospitals according to Delhi government data was 1,140MT, however, after correcting erroneous reporting by four hospitals, the figure was found at 209 MT.

The interim report by the panel pointed out that the Delhi government claimed its formula for oxygen demand was based on ICMR guidelines but no such guidelines was placed before it.

The Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organization (PESO) told the sub-group that sufficient quantity of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) is available with major hospitals and re-fillers in Delhi, and since Delhi has surplus oxygen, which is affecting the LMO supplies to other states, and termed it, “disaster in waiting, if it continues likes this”.

The PESO added that LMO tanks in Delhi were filled to the capacity of 71 per cent in the morning on May 10, and it may not be possible to accommodate additional 700MTs, if supplied. “Average daily consumption of LMO in Delhi is 284 to 372 MTs…Delhi government has reserve of 122.50 MTs as of May 10, at 12 noon,” added the PESO.

The panel emphasized that Delhi government used wrong formula and made exaggerated claims for medical oxygen, and it was not clear on what basis Delhi sought 700 MT in the top court when data collated by it for audit had gross errors.

The panel headed by AIIMS director Randeep Guleria and comprising Subodh Yadav, joint secretary, Jal Shakti Ministry, Bhupinder S. Bhalla, principal secretary (home), Government of NCT, Delhi, Sandeep Bhudhiraja of Max Hospital, Delhi and Sanjay Kumar Singh, controller of explosives, PESO was formed by the top court on May 6.

“It is not clear on what basis had an allocation of 700MT been sought by government of Delhi in Supreme Court of India when collated data had so many gross errors and it took an oxygen audit to point out the same,” added the report.

The panel said it appeared the Delhi government used wrong formula and made exaggerated claims on April 30. It was also evident that some hospitals could not differentiate between kilolitre and Metric Tonne but this was not examined while projecting 700 MTs.

Following Delhi government claims of shortage of medical oxygen, a bench headed by Justice D. Y. Chandrachud on May 5, had directed Centre to maintain supply of 700 MT of oxygen to Delhi. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had vehemently argued that this demand was exaggerated, and the requirement was about 415 MT.

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