As the country’s national capital gasps for oxygen the second day in a row, the Centre announced on Wednesday to supply 480 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen to Delhi.
The supply would be fulfilled by oxygen plants from states like Odisha, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, officials said.
But the development has only brought a momentary respite to the city. The officials said that more than 20 per cent of the Oxygen supply to Delhi from its quota will take three days to reach the hospitals.
“It is a matter of grave concern this is happening when only a few hours of oxygen remain with several hospitals,” a senior government official said.
The Kejriwal government is worried that with the alarming surge in Covid-19 cases, if the remaining oxygen gets depleted in these hospitals, Delhi is staring at a catastrophe waiting to unfold.
“The officials informed that of the 480 MT, 100 would arrive from Odisha (70 MT) and West Bengal (30 MT) will take almost 72 hours to reach Delhi. Our hospitals running out of time. Meanwhile, the 140 metric tonne, which Haryana has to supply is yet to leave for Delhi,” the official informed.
On Monday and Tuesday, around 240 and 365 MT of oxygen were supplied to Delhi against the daily requirement of 700 MT.
Since Delhi does not have its own source of oxygen, the capital’s supply comes from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. For the last few days, the Delhi government has been repeatedly asking the Centre to increase its oxygen quota given the mammoth rise in hospitalisation.
“The power related to oxygen supply lies with the Central Government, which decides which state will get how much oxygen. Given the new, far more virulent wave of Covid-19, Delhi has seen a huge rise in demand for oxygen, and the Chief Minister had even informed the Prime Minister of the sheer gravity of the situation” the official said.
However, the supply chain has completely disrupted leading to the hospitals avoiding new Covid cases. The Delhi government-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital is not admitting the new cases since Tuesday night.
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi noted that currently, it has only 10-12 hours of oxygen supply available for all its patients with no other alternative.
Similarly, Manipal Hospital observed that they have an oxygen backup of merely 12 hours while more than 230 Covid patients admitted there.
Max Hospital, Patparganj has around 262 Covid patients and oxygen for about three hours while the oxygen backup for 285 Covid patients at Max Shalimar Bagh will last for only about two hours.
The situation remains grim at Delhi government hospitals too. Last night, GTB Hospital just about managed to avert mass tragedy when it received an emergency supply of oxygen for the more than 500 patients admitted there.
Commenting on the dire situation, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “This morning, several Delhi hospitals ran out of oxygen because it was supposed to come from a plant in Faridabad, Haryana. However, a district official reached the plant and stopped the life-saving oxygen vehicles from entering Delhi, claiming instead that going forward, this oxygen will stay with Haryana. When the Centre decides on the issue of oxygen, no state government should have the authority to stop the supply of oxygen.”