The State of Punjab, Haryana, and Union Territory of Chandigarh had started to report a shortage of oxygen in many of their districts wreaking havoc on the citizens. To resolve the issue of logistics, this petition was filed.
Submissions before the Court
Mr. Khosla submitted that there was a shortfall in the supply of oxygen in all 2 states and one Union Territory. The main problem was oxygen not being supplied or had been allotted from centers that were distant from the states, thus, increasing the time of transportation, leaving the states in a lurch.
Mr.Atul Nanda submitted that Punjab’s requirement of Liquid Medical Oxygen was 300 MT but it was only receiving 227 MT of oxygen, that too with a great amount of delay. Further, there was a shortage of life-saving drug Tocilizumab in the state and a massive shortage of vaccines in the state indicating that there was a shortage of about 32 lakh doses in the state of Punjab.
Mr. Baldev Rana for the state of Haryana submitted that it was facing an extreme shortage of oxygen, despite an oxygen plant being present in the vicinity of the state in Panipat. It was submitted by Mr. Baldev that despite being the plant present in the state, it was not allowed to procure oxygen from the plant and was being allotted a faraway place to meet its oxygen demand.
Mr. Pankaj Jain representing the UT of Chandigarh also submitted that they were also facing extreme difficulty in procuring the required oxygen.
The Additional Solicitor General of India, Mr. Satya Pal Jain submitted before the Court that allocation of oxygen was being done equitably to all states in the country. He further submitted that no discrimination had been meted out to any of the states.
The Court’s Order
The Court taking stock of the situation, observed medical oxygen could not be airlifted due to its highly flammable character and transportation via roads was time-consuming and the country was facing a shortage of oxygen. The Court further observed that the concerned states were not seeking enhancement in the quantity of oxygen allocated to them but are concerned about an exorbitant delay in supply. Therefore, the Court directed the Central Government to consider reorientation of the supply of oxygen in a manner that there was no loss of life due to the delay in supply.
Observations of the Court
The Court observed that it would be “failing in its duty if the work done by philanthropic organizations was not appreciated who had taken upon the daunting task of serving and taking care of pandemic affected patients by risking their own lives. At the same time, others had acted as predators looking for an opportunity to fleece people even in this crisis”.
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