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The Supreme Court said that it will hear both the cases simultaneously. The Center told the Supreme Court that the final report of the National Task Force on Oxygen Supply and Audit has been submitted to the Central Government. All the states have been asked to form their own task forces to conduct oxygen audits in their respective states. The subgroup’s interim report to assess Delhi’s oxygen requirement was submitted in June.
Justice DY Chandrachud said, “Since the NTF consists of senior doctors and experts, we expect the Center to take steps to ensure that the recommendations are duly implemented at the policy level.” The hearing of this matter will now take place with the matter of taking suo motu cognizance of the preparations of Kovid, the copy of the NTF report and the action report of the Center has also been asked to be given to the amicus curiae and all the state lawyers within 2 weeks. Earlier, the National Task Force constituted by the Supreme Court has filed its report.
In fact, on May 5, a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, on the petition of the AAP government regarding the lack of oxygen in the capital, directed the central government to maintain the supply of 700 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi. A sub-committee was constituted for audit under the chairmanship of AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria. Discrepancies were found in the data given by Delhi hospitals to the panel.
Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asif Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital and Liferay Hospital had few beds and their data was incorrect. This led to an exaggerated claim of oxygen in Delhi. Delhi government data says consumption from April 29 to May 10 was not more than 350MT. 260 hospitals were sent proforma to give data by the committee and 183 responded, this includes 10916 non-ICU beds, and 4162 ICU beds Were.
On the other hand, in the sub-group for oxygen audit constituted by the Supreme Court, 2 out of 5 members are saying a different thing, which is attached in the report itself. Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Home) Bhupendra Singh Bhalla has written that Delhi’s oxygen requirement on the basis of bed occupancy at the end of April was 625 MT, and in the first week of May was 700 MT. He said that to add to the report that The Delhi government’s oxygen requirement formula is based on the ICMR guidelines.
Whereas the second member of this committee has been written by Dr. Sandeep Budhiraja, Group Medical Director, Max Hospital. Based on the oxygen consumption of 214 hospitals, it was found that 490 MT was consumed daily, while it did not include data on refilling of oxygen cylinders and oxygen requirement of non-coronavirus.
The sub-committee had submitted many important recommendations regarding oxygen in Delhi. It was said that 300 metric tonnes of stock should be made available to Delhi on an assured basis. An additional quota of 100 metric tonnes should also be made available to Delhi so that Delhi can lift it by 4 pm.
Delhi should keep a buffer stock of 50-100 metric tonnes for any emergency. PSA plants should be set up in hospitals when cases are low. Availability of oxygen concentrators should be increased. Average daily requirement of Delhi is around 400 MT. There should be fixed quota for Delhi and remaining oxygen should be given to other states of Delhi The requirement is between 290 to 400 MT.
At the same time, the National Task Force appointed by the Supreme Court has filed a report in the matter of oxygen management across the country. It has been said that to counter the waves of corona in future, a strategy should be made to create oxygen reserve on the lines of petroleum products. The NTF has said that the country should have a strategic stockpile of oxygen similar to the arrangement made for petroleum products to cover 2-3 weeks of consumption. Similarly, all hospitals should have buffer capacity for emergencies.
The National Task Force recommended a formula to determine the oxygen requirements across the country. For a 100-bed hospital, there should be a formula of 1.5 metric tons of liquid oxygen required for 25 percent of the ICU beds. On the basis of this formula, the states should seek help from the Center for the demand of oxygen for the next 24 hours. According to the report, there is a need to increase oxygen production for the next pandemic and the government should support and subsidize the industries concerned.
All states should have oxygen audit panels as per the order of the apex court. Hospitals need to be audited for judicious use of oxygen. Oxygen production should be carried by transport within 24 hours. There should be a storage hub for oxygen along with state and district storage to deal with emergencies.