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Delhi 'exaggerated' oxygen need by 4 times during second wave: Report

Legal Correspondent New Delhi | Updated on June 25, 2021

SC appointed audit team led by AIIMS Director said there were 'gross discrepancy' in claims

A report submitted by a Supreme Court-appointed oxygen audit team led by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said the Delhi government “exaggerated” its oxygen needs by four times during the peak days of the second wave of the pandemic.

But the report also quoted the Delhi government’s version that the supply of life-saving oxygen from neighbouring States was “erratic and unreliable” at the time.

The report is annexed with an affidavit filed by the Health Ministry in the Supreme Court.

The sub-group on Oxygen Audit Delhi led by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria recorded in its interim report that there was “gross discrepancy” in claims of oxygen consumption in Delhi. The oxygen consumption was portrayed as four times more than was actually required.

 

“There was gross discrepancy (about four times) in that the actual oxygen consumption claimed (1140MT) was about four times higher than the calculated consumption based on the formula for bed capacity (289 MT),” the report said.

However, the sub-group referred to Delhi government’s version that the schedule for the supply of oxygen was awry during those crunch days in May. Delhi had required adequate liquid medical oxygen stock to treat COVID-19 patients. The Capital had to replenish its oxygen supply and avoid an “SOS situation which the State had witnessed after April 24 on a consistent basis.”

At one point, the report recorded the Centre’s “anguish” about the discrepancy in liquid medical oxygen data uploaded by Delhi.

The report said it was not clear “on what basis an allocation of 700 MT was sought by the Government of Delhi in the Supreme Court when the collected data had so many gross errors and it took an oxygen audit to point out the same”.

The Supreme Court had, on May 5, ordered the Centre to burn the midnight oil and prepare a "comprehensive plan" for the supply of 700 MT of life-saving oxygen to Delhi on a daily basis. On May 7, the apex court had warned the Centre of “coercive action” if it did not supply 700 MT every day to Delhi. The orders had come amidst a large number of deaths during a raging second wave of the pandemic.

But the sub-group report noted that the “Government of Delhi used a wrong formula and made exaggerated claims on April 30” in the Supreme Court about the daily need for oxygen in the Capital.

“Some hospitals could not differentiate between KL and MT and the same was not examined while projecting 700 MT,” the report said.

It said it was “obvious there was an excess supply of oxygen to Delhi… Tankers in Delhi could not offload oxygen and were lying idle as oxygen tanks in various hospitals were completely filled”.

The report refers to a Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation study that liquid medical oxygen tanks in Delhi were filled to the capacity of 71 per cent on May 10 morning and it was not possible to accommodate the “additional 700MT, if supplied”.

There was also inadequate infrastructure in Delhi to store 700 MT. The average daily consumption of oxygen in Delhi was between 284 MT and 372 MT.

Delhi had “surplus oxygen, which is affecting liquid medical oxygen supplies to other States.... It is a disaster waiting to happen, if it continues like this”.

Published on June 25, 2021

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