7 May 2021 3:02 PM GMT
Taking note of the present situation of oxygen deficit in the States of Haryana, Punjab and UT of Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday directed the Government of India to consider reorientation of oxygen supply from various plants in a manner that the allocated quantity reaches States before the already allocated quota is exhausted. Observing that the situation appears to...
Taking note of the present situation of oxygen deficit in the States of Haryana, Punjab and UT of Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday directed the Government of India to consider reorientation of oxygen supply from various plants in a manner that the allocated quantity reaches States before the already allocated quota is exhausted.
Observing that the situation appears to be "critical" deserving "immediate attention of the Union", a division bench comprising of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh ordered thus:
"It appears that all three States, at this stage, are not seeking enhancement in the quantity of oxygen allotted to them, but are aggrieved by delay in supply thereof. As a result of late delivery, allocated quantity of oxygen is not able to reach the States well in time. We, thus, feel it necessary to direct Government of India to consider reorientation of the supply of oxygen from various plants in such a manner that the allocated quantity reaches the respective States before already allotted quota is exhausted to avoid loss of life."
The direction came after ASG Satya Pal Jain apprised the Court that the allocation of oxygen was being done equitably to all the States in the Country and that no discrimination was done by giving favourable status to any State.
During the course of hearing today, amicus curiae Senior Advocate Rupinder Khosla apprised the Court about the shortfall in oxygen supply to all the three States. He further informed that the allocated oxygen supply was either not being supplied or was allocated from distant places which was not conducive.
Counsel appearing on behalf of State of Punjab also highlighted the issue of oxygen shortage and also the shortage with regards to vaccination in the State. It was submitted that there was a shortfall of 32 lakh doses in the State and that the demand has not been met.
On the other hand, counsel appearing on behalf of State of Haryana informed the Court that the State was facing "extreme shortage of oxygen" despite the fact that it has a plant located at Panipat which is manufacturing 260 MT. Similar difficulty was highlighted by the counsel representing UT of Chandigarh.
Governments Need to be Over Sensitive, Common Strategy Needs to be Drawn for Oxygen Availability, says HC
Observing that it would be a mistake to under-estimate the virulence of the virus, the Court noted that the availability of oxygen at the earliest is imperative in the present scenario.
"People in trauma cannot be made to run here and there in hospitals to get oxygen cylinders. The Governments need to be over sensitive and in a overdrive to reach out to patients in need of medical care and assistance. It is for this reason, we feel that a common strategy needs to be drawn up particularly as regards availability of oxygen." The Court observed at the outset.
At this stage, the Court also asked the States to consider activating auto ambulance services fitted with oxygen as shown by various media reports.
Furthermore, the Court also noted that the States may consider "setting up of unified command centre" for Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali as the working and business class have their work place or residence in either of the three cities.
"In this manner, three cities are now integrated as a tricity. In case a joint strategy is drawn up, it may be easier to tackle the present crisis. In a situation like one created by Covid-19 Pandemic paramount consideration with the Governments should be of helping every human being irrespective of the State to which he belongs For better administration and to implement policies, parochial or other considerations should not stand in the way. In case, there is a common platform to deliberate upon the strategies to be adopted, it would be easier to tackle the challenges posed by the Pandemic." The Court ordered.
Putting up the matter for further hearing on 12th May 2021, the Court went ahead to order thus:
"Lastly, this court would be failing in its duty if the work done by philanthropic organizations is not appreciated who have taken upon daunting task of serving and taking care of Pandemic affected patients by risking their own lives. At the same time, there are others who have acted as predators looking for an opportunity to fleece people even in this crisis. This court gives the liberty to the States to act sternly against such culprits and take strict action."
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