6 May 2021 11:09 AM GMT
Taking note of inadequate liquid medical oxygen supply in Tamil Nadu, forcing the State Government to fall back on reserves, the Madras High Court on Thursday made an appeal to the Centre for equitable distribution of resources to all the states, and ensure that lives are not lost for want of Oxygen. Senior Advocate P Wilson urged a Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice...
Taking note of inadequate liquid medical oxygen supply in Tamil Nadu, forcing the State Government to fall back on reserves, the Madras High Court on Thursday made an appeal to the Centre for equitable distribution of resources to all the states, and ensure that lives are not lost for want of Oxygen.
Senior Advocate P Wilson urged a Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy to pass a positive direction in this regard, like the Delhi High Court.
However, the Bench said,
"No Court of a particular State can demand all the facilities to exclusion of others. There has to be equitable distribution of available resources…and the position should not be altered to the detriment of a particular state."
The Court was hearing the suo motu case on handling of Covid-19 crisis in the State.
It has asked the Centre to take a decision on Oxygen allocation to Tamil Nadu, by tomorrow. "UOI and the empowered committee should take immediate steps (by tomorrow) to ensure an adequate supply of oxygen to Tamil Nadu to meet the state's requirement," it ordered.
It further directed the authorities to facilitate setting up of Oxygen plants in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, etc. like DRDO did at AIIMS and RML on short notice and at affordable costs.
The High Court urged the authorities to ensure that Oxygen supplies to hospitals remain uninterrupted. "Please do whatever is within your power to see that somehow oxygen supply is augmented," the Chief Justice told the Centre.
He also asked if DRDO can set up Oxygen plants in the southern states also, as it has done at RML and AIIMS. "Can the DRDO do something? It does not cost too much. It takes 24-48 hours to set up the oxygen generator plants," the Bench said.
The Health Secretary informed that the State is running low on Oxygen supplies and even locally produced gas at Inox Sriperumbadur is being diverted to neighboring states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
He stated that on May 1 and May 2, the Centre allocated about 250MT Oxygen. However, now the consumption has gone up to 400-450MT per day.
It was submitted that in a meeting held on Sunday, May 2, between the Central Government and the State of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, manufacturers and other stakeholders, a consensus was arrived at to release 475 MT Oxygen to Tamil Nadu. However, the same has not been released till date, leading to Oxygen deficit in the State.
He stated that as of now, hospitals are managing the demand with reserve cylinders. However, that will also run out by tomorrow.
"Inox Sriperumbadur is a lifeline for Chennai and Government Hospitals. Its supply should not be touched… The plan agreed mutually between GOI and other States should be published," Health Secretary submitted.
Medical facilities in Puducherry
Government Pleader N. Mala informed the Court that the UT of Puducherry has sufficient Oxygen supply and hospital beds. She submitted that there are proposals underway to take private hospital beds as well.
However, some Advocates alleged that the Government is hiding the true picture from the Court and that people in Puducherry are dying due to un availability of beds, shortage of doctors, medical staff.
The Bench however refused to get into such allegations, stating that a sworn statement in the form of status report has been filed before it and the same must be given credence.
"Your off-the-cuff remarks cannot be accepted in the absence of any material evidence. The Puducherry Government claims that they are doing alright."
The Bench further proceeded to note that a lot of measures in Puducherry are at the stage of proposal and expressed hope that the same will be implemented in the next few days.
It further observed that information regarding availability of beds should be published through website or other media.
The Court also inquired from the State authorities regarding the unfortunate incident at Chengalpattu Government Hospital, where 13 COVID-19 patients died on Tuesday after Oxygen supply was disrupted due to poor pressure in the tank.
It was informed that the incident was the result of failure of the management and that an inquiry has been ordered.
During the hearing, the Court was informed that the Centre has allocated 10.3 lakh vaccine units for Tamil Nadu and the supply is awaited.
The Court thus asked the Centre and its vendors to ensure prompt supply so that preventive measures can be taken to stop further proliferation of Covid cases.
The Court was informed that there is sufficient supply of all drugs essential for treating Covid-19, except Remdesivir. At this juncture, the ASG submitted that steps are being taken to increase its production within a week.
The matter is now listed for hearing on May 12 with liberty to approach the Court earlier, if the situation so warrants.
To be Updated with Order