"Fight Over? Let's Do Some Work": Arvind Kejriwal On Delhi Oxygen Report

On Saturday morning AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria - who heads the sub-group that led the audit - told NDTV "I don't think we could say that", when asked about Delhi "exaggerating" oxygen needs

"My crime is I fought for the lives of Delhi's two crore people": Arvind Kejriwal said (File)

New Delhi:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offered the centre an olive branch on Saturday afternoon - a day after the ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the government clashed over claims the national capital had "exaggerated" medical oxygen needs during the peak of the second Covid wave.

Mr Kejriwal - whose administration fought an extended battle with the centre over supply of medical oxygen to the city in April and May - called on the government to "come together to ensure nobody will lack oxygen in the third wave", and threw in a sarcastic swipe for good measure.

"If your fight over oxygen is over... let's do some work? Let's come together to make a system that ensures nobody will lack oxygen in the third wave. In the second, people suffered a severe shortage of oxygen... this should not happen in the third wave," the Chief Minister said in Hindi.

"If we fight amongst ourselves coronavirus will win. If we fight together, India will win," he said.

This morning AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria - who led the audit team - spoke to NDTV and, when asked about Delhi "exaggerating" oxygen needs, said: "I don't think we could say that".

On Friday a massive political row erupted after the contents of what central government sources said was the interim report of a Supreme Court-appointed audit team were revealed to the media.

Based on that report, the BJP that is in power at the centre said Delhi had used an incorrect formula to calculate its medical oxygen needs and made exaggerated claims in court on April 30.

The Delhi government had said it needed around 700 metric tonnes of oxygen per day; the High Court and the Supreme Court came down hard on the centre for not supplying the required amount.

A furious AAP hit back almost immediately; Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the Delhi government had spoken to members of the audit team, who said they hadn't approved a report.

"This is a mischievous act perpetrated by the BJP... an absolute lie. Shame on the BJP," Mr Sisodia raged, asking, "Where those people (who were) begging and crying for oxygen lying?"

Mr Kejriwal also spoke up, particularly as several Union Ministers tweeted in apparent unison, including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

"My crime is I fought for the lives of Delhi's two crore people," he said.

"When you were addressing election rallies, I was awake all night arranging for oxygen. I fought and pleaded..." he added - a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election rallies in Bengal as the second Covid wave was wreaking havoc in the country.

As the controversy rumbled on through Friday, the Delhi government also said its calculations were compliant with ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research, the central government's nodal body in this crisis) guidelines and projected oxygen needs were "based on active cases... around 1 lakh".

It also said the centre's assumption - that only 50 per cent of non-ICU beds use oxygen - was "not correct" in the context of a respiratory disease like COVID-19.