Delhi govt inflated oxygen demand by four times during second COVID-19 wave: SC audit team

DPCC president Anil Kumar Chaudhary said it was now clear that Delhi govt’s inadequate preparations had led to a high number of deaths rather than lack of oxygen supply, and demanded an FIR against it

Representative Image
Representative Image

NH Web Desk

An oxygen audit team set up by the Supreme Court during the peak of COVID-19 second wave has stated that Delhi government’s claim of needing 1,140 metric tonnes of oxygen was four times higher than the recommended oxygen consumption as per the Union government’s formula, which was 289 MT of oxygen. The recommended oxygen consumption as per the Delhi government’s formula was 391 MT.

The audit team underscored that the supply of excess oxygen "affected other states".

The panel, led by AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, comprised of Delhi Government Principal Home Secretary Bhupinder Bhalla, Max Healthcare Director Sandeep Buddhiraja, Union Jal Shakti Ministry Joint Secretary Subodh Yadav and Sanjay Kumar Singh of the Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organisation (PESO).

The audit team noted the gross discrepancy in the actual consumption vs the calculated consumption in the national Capital and pointed out that four hospitals – Singhal, Aruna Asaf Ali, ESIC Model and Liferay – claimed extremely high oxygen consumption with very few beds. The claims appeared to be “erroneous, leading to extremely skewed information and significantly higher oxygen requirement for entire state of Delhi," the audit report said.

In April-May, as the second wave of COVID swept through the country, several hospitals in Delhi sent out emergency requests for oxygen on social media and some even went to court.

The Delhi Government told the sub-group that data captured on its official portal was more reliable than data submitted in forms created specifically by the sub-group and the actual consumption, according to the Delhi government portal, was 442 MT. The requirement calculated from data captured using Excel sheet was 490 MT.

“It was concluded that the total consumption of Delhi is not less than 500 MT,” the Delhi government said. It said the audit report was a ‘mischievous attempt’ to tarnish the image of the Delhi government.

Slamming the Delhi government, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Anil Kumar Chaudhary said, “Now it is evident that the Delhi government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had mismanaged the oxygen supply during the peak of COVID-19 wave in May. It has become clear that Kejriwal had not put in place the required measures to tackle COVID-19. The government blamed the lack of oxygen supply for the deaths in Delhi, when it was their inadequate preparations that led to deaths. Who will take responsibility for these deaths? Delhi is under the Lieutenant Governor, who is answerable to the Union government, so theCcentral government also cannot wash their hands off,” said Kumar.

He said that a FIR must to be registered against the Delhi government for being responsible for the deaths of the state’s citizens.

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