21 May 2021 4:07 PM GMT
Stressing that in a quasi-federal country like ours, it is the constitutional duty of the Central Government to rush to the rescue of the State Government, the Uttarakhand High Court recently called it 'surprising' that the Centre was maintaining 'studied silence' on State Govt's oxygen-related 'reasonable' demands. The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice...
Stressing that in a quasi-federal country like ours, it is the constitutional duty of the Central Government to rush to the rescue of the State Government, the Uttarakhand High Court recently called it 'surprising' that the Centre was maintaining 'studied silence' on State Govt's oxygen-related 'reasonable' demands.
The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Verma observed that the least that is expected from the Central Government is to respond to the repeated letters being sent by the State Government.
Submission of the State Government
Amit Negi, Secretary, Medical Health and Family Welfare highlighted the difficulty of procuring oxygen tanks for the State and submitted that a letter was addressed to the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI suggesting that the Uttarakhand State should be permitted to procure its quota of 183 MT from the locally produced centres within Uttarakhand.
He suggested that, instead of directing the Uttarakhand State to import its remaining quota of oxygen from Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, the remaining quota should also be permitted to be taken from the local oxygen production units within the State.
However, according to Mr. Negi, so far, the Union of India had not responded to the said letter.
Also, it was submitted that the Chief Secretary wrote to the Cabinet Secretary, Government of India, to increase the oxygen quota of the State from 183 MT to 300 MT, but the letter did not to elicit any response from the Central Government.
Again, the Chief Secretary, requested the Secretary, Medical Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, to supply 10,000 oxygen concentrators, 10,000 oxygen cylinders, 30 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants, CPaP 200 Machines, 200 BiPaP Machines, and 1,00,000 Pulse Oximeters.
However, this letter too, gone unheeded by the Union of India, it was submitted.
Lastly, it was submitted that without the cooperation of the Central Government, it may be difficult for the State Government to ensure constant supply of oxygen to the people of the State, especially, in the remote part of the State.
At the outset, the Court noted that tackling the COVID-19 pandemic is, indeed, a herculean task, however, despite the difficulties, the State Government appears to be dedicated to the cause.
The Bench also observed that it was trite to state that the health care system cannot be transformed miraculously overnight. Procuring machines and equipment, appointing the medical staff takes time.
Importantly, the Court observed,
"It is rather surprising that despite the reasonable request made by the State Government to the Central Government, to permit it to lift its quota of oxygen from its own production centres within the State, in spite of the request of the State to increase its quota from 183 MT to 300 MT, and in spite of the request of the State to supply large number of oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, PSA oxygen plants, the Central Government is maintaining a studied silence over all these issues."
The Court also observed,
"In a quasi-federal country like ours, it is the the constitutional duty of the Central Government to rush to the rescue of the State Government."
The Court also hoped that the Central Government would take action against defaulting companies, and would ensure that the total supply of 1,24,000 vials of Remdesivir Injections is supplied to the State.
Further, the Court asked the State Government to take concrete steps to ensure that Char Dham does not become a new breeding ground for the spread of COVID-19. More strict vigilance and surveillance for Char Dham is immediately called for by the State
Lastly, the Court issued the following directions to the State and the Central Government: -
Lastly, the Court directed the Assistant Solicitor General to ensure that the competent person from the Central Government is present, who would be in a position to explain to the Court the reasons as to why the Central Government is not willing to concede to the request of the State Government for lifting the oxygen quota, supplying of oxygen tanks, and the oxygen concentrators etc.
Also read: 'First We Allowed Kumbh Mela, Now Char Dham': Uttarakhad High Court Says Govt Careless About COVID Protocols
State Did Not Pay Heed To Expert Warning About COVID Second Wave : Uttarakhand High Court Pulls Up State Government
COVID-19- "Extricate Every Single Drop Of Your Strength And Dedicate Yourself To The Protection Of Your Own People": Uttarakhand HC To State Govt.
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