States like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra were given more oxygen than they asked for, but Arvind Kejriwal government's repeated appeals were not granted, the Delhi High Court said today, questioning the Centre about the rationale involved. The Central government has to either show justification for this or "make amends", said the two-judge bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.
"What's happening in Delhi? Why are we struck in 490 metric tonnes here? People close to us are not getting oxygen beds. You too are aware of it. We are getting calls for oxygen beds, hospitals. Even you must be getting calls," the court said.
"We have to rise as Indians. This is the single biggest challenge India has faced," the judges pointed out.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre, said, "If there is any extra allocation to Madhya Pradesh, it is because of the surge in cases in two of their districts. It is not NDA government versus others. It is the Centre which is working with the states".
Delhi had sought an urgent order on the oxygen allocation, saying though its present allocation was 490 metric tonnes, it received only 400 metric tonnes yesterday. This is up from the 300 metric tonnes received last week, Delhi said, adding, "Without your lordships, we wouldn't have got it".
The Delhi government, which is logging 24,000 to 28,000 cases for nearly two weeks, has sought 780 metric tonnes of oxygen. Delhi's requirements were projected at 700 metric tonnes last week, but the allocation was 480 metric tonnes, which was later increased to 490.
The huge oxygen shortage has brought the city's hospitals to their knees since last week. In at least one hospital, doctors attributed the deaths of 25 patients to the shortage. Other hospitals have periodically stopped new admission when the shortage was grave.
In absence of oxygen and beds, patients are seen waiting outside hospitals, in ambulances, autos and sometimes even two-wheelers. Several have died waiting on the road.
The Centre reiterated today that all allotments are made on the basis of calculation by officials. "There are states which received less than what they had asked for. We have been rationalising," Mr Mehta said.
Earlier today, Delhi had placed before the judges a list of demands and allocation made by states. The court said there appears to be enough oxygen production in the country, the problem lies in transportation, with the country not having enough cryogenic tankers.