AAP vs Centre Over Report On "Exaggerated Oxygen Need"

According to the study, Delhi Government's data said from April 29 to May 10, the consumption of oxygen did not exceed 350 MT.

The average consumption of oxygen in Delhi was between 284 to 372 MT.

Highlights

  • The average consumption of oxygen in Delhi was between 284 to 372 MT
  • 4 hospitals have been called out for claiming high consumption of oxygen
  • The panel noted discrepancies in the data given by Delhi hospitals
New Delhi:

Delhi "exaggerated" its oxygen needs by four times at the peak of the second wave of Covid and the supply of excess oxygen "affected other states", says a report that has set off a new clash between the Centre and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the capital. Central government sources say it is the interim report of a Supreme Court-appointed audit team. AAP, however, insists there is no such report and the claim is part of "malicious and false" propaganda.

Based on the report, the Centre has said Delhi used the wrong formula to calculate its oxygen needs and made exaggerated claims in court on April 30.

"It was discussed that there is a gross discrepancy (about four times) in that the actual oxygen consumption claimed (1140MT) was about 4 times higher than the versus calculated consumption by formula for bed capacity (289MT)," says the interim report of a sub-group, which the Centre has submitted to the Supreme Court along with recommendations of a National Task Force on oxygen.

The sub-group, led by AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, includes 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 Organization (PESO).

The damning observations on Delhi's "inflated" claims on oxygen needs are from a study by PESO - a central government unit -- that is part of the interim report.

"It is obvious that there is excess supply to Delhi," said the PESO study.

Delhi has "surplus oxygen, which is affecting the supplies to other states and are a disaster in waiting, if it continues like this," it said.

PESO also noted that Delhi's infrastructure was inadequate for storing 700 MT, the amount that the Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to supply to Delhi.

Four Delhi hospitals claimed high consumption of oxygen with fewer beds, said PESO. "It was noted that four hospitals in Delhi - Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital, and Liferay Hospital - have claimed extremely high oxygen consumption with very few beds and the claims appeared to be clearly erroneous, leading to extremely skewed information and significantly higher oxygen requirement for entire state of Delhi," said the study.

According to documents attached to the interim findings, the Delhi Government countered the PESO study and flagged error in data.

It said its calculations were fully in line with ICMR guidelines and its projections were "based on active cases... around 1 lakh".

The Delhi Government also said the Centre assumes only 50 per cent of non-ICU beds use oxygen. The assumption was "not correct", it said, in the context of a respiratory disease like COVID-19.

PESO's comments tie in with the Centre's allegations of overstated demands by Delhi. The AAP government slammed what it called lies and mischief and asserted that the study was being passed off as a report that does not exist so far.

"Where those people begging and crying for oxygen lying? Were the hospitals making SOS calls lying," Manish Sisodia questioned.

"We spoke to the members of the audit committee. They say there's no such report that has been signed or approved by them. This is a mischievous act perpetrated by the BJP. It's an absolute lie. Shame on the BJP," said the Deputy Chief Minister.

In April, when the lethal second wave of Covid swept through the country, several hospitals in Delhi sent out SOS for oxygen on social media and some even went to court. Covid patients and their relatives were seen on TV channels and online begging for oxygen.

Sources countered AAP's claim and said the report had been signed off by all sub-group members, including the Delhi principal secretary, and was also delivered to the Delhi Government.

The Supreme Court will take up issues related to the vaccination policy and oxygen supply, including this interim report, on June 30.