The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre’s response on the issue of setting up buffer stock of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) in the national capital to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the Aam Aadmi Party government submitted that it has 419 metric tonnes of LMO. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh directed the Centre to positively respond within one week on the steps taken in terms of the Supreme Court’s April 30 order asking the Centre to create buffer stock of LMO, as it has been pending for a long time.
The court was informed by the Delhi government counsel that it has 419 metric tonnes LMO in buffer as of now and it will be maintained and that the facility is being created at state hospital. The court also directed the Delhi government to file a status report on the issue of buffer stock of oxygen and give details of the location of different storage tanks and how much quantity of the LMO is being stored there.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, submitted that the LMO stock was being stored with the oxygen suppliers, later it would be transported here. The court observed that if the Delhi government has storage facility, it should be used to store the oxygen so that in case of a surge in COVID-19 cases, it would be readily available.
“There might be a possibility that you have the capacity to store but you would not get the oxygen quantity when you need it and your storage tanks will be empty. At the time of crisis, every state will run for oxygen and they you will find it difficult to get, the bench said. You go by our experience of April and May. You had issues of transportation, infrastructure, no storage facility. These were the bottlenecks..,” the court said, and asked the government whether the issue was scientifically examined.
The court also asked the Centre to file a status report in response to recommendations made by IIT Delhi on oxygen storage in the national capital in which the institution has proposes certain steps to be taken by the central government.
It also asked the Centre and Delhi government to file reports within a week giving data of usage of transportation and accommodation facilities, extended by them to the health workers. During the hearing, the court was informed by the amicus curiae and senior advocate Raj Shekhar Rao that steps have been taken by the Centre on fixing of prices of oxygen concentrators, which were being sold at exorbitant rates during the second wave of the COVID-19.
The court asked the Centre to place on record the notification on fixing MRP of oxygen concentrators and capped trade margin on the prices.