The AAP-run Delhi government has proposed to divert what it is now calling an “oxygen surplus” to other states which require it more than the national capital does. This magical turnaround in the stance of the Delhi government comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court giving the go-ahead for an oxygen audit in the national capital – upon the insistence of the Central government. Interestingly, the AAP government of Delhi had vociferously objected to any oxygen audit, saying instead that any audit should be conducted of the oxygen being supplied to the national capital by the Centre.
Addressing a digital press conference, Manish Sisodia said Thursday that the Delhi government had written to the Centre to divert the surplus oxygen to other, more needy states. “Today, as a responsible government, we have written to the Centre saying we need 582 metric tonnes instead of 700 metric tonne oxygen, and the extra oxygen we are receiving – above the 590 metric tonne quota – should be given to other states which need it more,” Sisodia remarked.
Less than a month ago, on April 18, the Kejriwal-led government of Delhi had requested the Centre to supply the national capital with 700 MT of medical oxygen daily. The number of active cases back then stood at around 74,941. Now, when the active cases in the national capital are hovering around the 82,000 mark, the AAP government has come out and said that Delhi requires not more than 582 MT of oxygen, calling on the Centre to divert the excess oxygen to other states.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal writes to Union Commerce & Industries Minister Piyush Goyal, requesting him to ensure uninterrupted supply of 700MT of oxygen on daily basis & restoration of supply of 140MT of oxygen by INOX, one of the major supplier to various hospitals in Delhi. https://t.co/gAxaRWCqJj pic.twitter.com/iSty7A84hf
— ANI (@ANI) April 18, 2021
Today, after assessment of the COVID19 situation, Delhi's oxygen need is 582 MT per day. As a responsible government, we will give the surplus oxygen to the States who need it: Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia pic.twitter.com/kgM2lhAef6
— ANI (@ANI) May 13, 2021
The miraculous drop in Delhi’s oxygen requirement comes days after the Supreme Court set up a panel comprising AIIMS director Randeep Guleria, Max Hospital’s Sandeep Budhiraja and an IAS officer each from the Centre and Delhi government to carry out an audit of supply, distribution and utilisation of oxygen supply in the national capital. This, despite enthusiastic opposition by the AAP government of Delhi to the audit – as if its own image was at stake and that the findings of the audit would unearth some nasty details.
Appearing for the Delhi government before the Supreme Court last week, senior advocate Rahul Mehra said the centre’s allocation of Oxygen to Delhi did not reflect ground realities and was mere paperwork, and if at all an audit was required, it should be of the central government’s arbitrary allocations. Mehra also claimed that the centre was carrying a witch-hunt against the Delhi government during a difficult time.
According to an India Today report, the Centre is of the belief that the AAP-led Delhi government has been procuring excess medical oxygen way above its daily requirements and diverting the same to the black market. A central government source was quoted as saying, “Inefficiency in use and diversion reports indicate that oxygen is being diverted to the black market or being hoarded by ministers of the Delhi government themselves.” The Centre also claimed that it was for this very reason that the Delhi government was opposing an audit of medical oxygen in the national capital.
With the audit of medical oxygen in Delhi now underway and the AAP government making defensive moves like trying to divert excess oxygen to other states – the reality of oxygen consumption in the national capital lies bare for all to witness. The audit report, rest assured, will surely incriminate the Kejriwal government.