A political battle has broken out between Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party Govt and the Bharatiya Janata Party over an interim report. Supreme Court-appointed panel to conduct an oxygen utilization audit in Delhi that has indicted. The Delhi government over "gross discrepancy" in recording the requirement of medical oxygen by its hospitals. Besides inflating the demand by more than five times its actual consumption between April 29 and May 10.
Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said: The Supreme court set up an oxygen audit committee. We spoke to members of the committee. They said that they have not approved or signed any report till now. Then what report is it? Where has it come from? I challenge the BJP to get a report which has been signed and approved by the oxygen audit committee. The panel is headed by AIIMS director Dr. Randeep Guleria. Its other members are Subodh Yadav, a joint secretary in the Jal Shakti ministry, Dr. Sandeep Budhiraja from Max Healthcare, Bhupinder S Bhalla, principal secretary, home, Delhi government, and Sanjay Kumar Singh, the controller of explosives at Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organization (PESO). The BJP was quick to respond to the findings. "It is unbelievable to see that Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi government politicized oxygen supply when Covid was at its peak. This is such petty politics. The data presented by Oxygen Audit Committee in the report is shocking," party's national spokesperson Sambit Patra said in a press conference.
"The demand for four times more oxygen was made by the Delhi Govt, due to which the oxygen tankers remained on the road. Had this oxygen been used in other states, many lives could have been saved. This is a heinous crime committed by Arvind Kejriwal Ji," he added.
The controversial report marks the latest chapter in a long-running spat between the Union government and the Delhi Govt fought across the Delhi high court and the Supreme Court. The Delhi Govt 's position, in the arguments in court, held against the backdrop of the raging second wave of the coronavirus disease pandemic in the Capital, was that the Union government was not allocating it enough oxygen. The Centre's position was that Delhi's needs were overstated and that the local government wasn't able to even lift supplies of oxygen that had been allocated to it. With social media filled with pleas of people scrambling for oxygen, the courts had to step in. While the issue was resolved with Delhi finally receiving adequate oxygen, the apex court also constituted an expert panel to look into the usage of the precious medical commodity. The interim findings of the audit sub-group of that panel, now leaked, have become the subject of controversy.
Even in a response in the report itself, the Delhi Govt describes the panel's proceedings as "a perfunctory desktop exercise, conducted hurriedly" which resulted in "erroneous entries and even more erroneous conclusions". Terming the allegation of excess supply "incorrect," it told the panel that it was "sad and shocking" that the panel arrived at "sweeping conclusions" without lending it an opportunity to explain.
The sub-group was constituted by the Supreme Court-appointed 12-member national task force. The task force was set up by the apex court on May 8 when the bench, led by justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, called for an immediate oxygen utilization audit in Delhi. At the same time, the bench also directed that Delhi should get 700 metric tonnes (MT) of the life-saving medical input every day despite the Union Govt's reluctance to give it that much.
The interim report cited a study conducted by the PESO and responses received from 183 hospitals in the national capital regarding their oxygen requirement to observe that while the city government's statistics claimed actual consumption of oxygen by its hospitals as 1,140 MT, the actual consumption turned out to be just 209 MT after correcting faulty reporting by four city hospitals. If the Centre-recommended formula for oxygen allotment was employed, the requirement would have been 289 MT and with the Delhi Govt's formula, it would have been 391 MT, stated the report. It noted that four hospitals, Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital, and Liferay Hospital erroneously claimed extremely high oxygen consumption with very few beds, "leading to extremely skewed information and significantly higher oxygen requirement for the entire state of Delhi."
The sub-group has added that the oxygen consumption did not go beyond 350 MT on any day between April 29 and May 10. This meant that when the Delhi government gave data of 1,140 MT as actual consumption by 183 hospitals. The panel, which met seven times between May 11 and May 21, recorded in one of its meetings a finding by PESO. That there is a gross discrepancy of about four times in that the actual oxygen consumption claimed of 1140 MT. About four times higher than the calculated consumption by the formula for bed- capacity. However, the interim report attached documentary replies of the Delhi government to the findings of the sub-group as well as to the PESO report. Refuting that the city government ever demanded oxygen over its requirement.
On May 13, the sub-group also noted that the actual requirement of oxygen was 332 MT as per the bed-occupancy formula of the Centre. Before it made an interim recommendation to the Supreme Court that 400 MT of daily oxygen. An additional 100 MT per day in exigency reserve should be adequate. National capital for the time being since the Covid-19 cases have dropped significantly. The panel further cited a PESO report that contended that the actual requirement of Delhi. During the peak of the second Covid-19 wave was much less than what was demanded. Making other states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Jammu and Kashmir suffer badly. The report, prepared after carrying out a study between May 5 and 11. Also contended that the AAP Govt was neither auditing its usage of oxygen nor was assessing its realistic demand.
Disagreeing with the formula used by the sub-group to compute oxygen requirement, the Delhi Govt in its communication to the panel, said: "The finding that Delhi received excess oxygen is incorrect. Delhi has never received excess oxygen. Only on May 5, it received 730 MT which was more than its requirement. The oxygen requirement is dynamic and as soon as Delhi's requirement decreased, proactive communication was sent to the Central Govt From a perusal of the minutes and the proceedings, it appears to have been a perfunctory desktop exercise, conducted hurriedly. Without even conducting an audit of a single institution in the true sense sadly. A single institution or interacted with their heads to get a first-hand account of the grim realities which were created by supply shortages. The Delhi Govt also disputed the sub-groups proforma on the requirement of oxygen as per bed occupancy. The sub-group has proceeded on an assumption that only 50% of non-ICU beds used oxygen which was not correct in the context.
"The committee needs to begin with the GNCTD calculation of 568 MT, which is the scientifically modeled and data-driven estimate. Then points out where it feels that our requirements could be higher or lower. This fact cannot be determined through an armchair paper exercise but through an actual survey on the ground. They were not able to upload oxygen and were lying idle since oxygen tanks in various hospitals were filled. The Delhi Govt called Guleria's observations strange pointing out that several. SOS calls had been received for tanker supplies for his institutions, AIIMS, Delhi. It is only when the system has stabilized strange narrative is finding a place in the committee of experts.
The Supreme Court is yet to hear this matter after May 6 and the court website. Also did not indicate any next date of listing. Sisodia said: "Such misleading statements and conspiracies are not okay in matters. We are all aware of the oxygen crisis in Delhi Govt's failure in oxygen management across the country. Instead of taking responsibility, the BJP is citing reports that do not exist. The BJP created this report in its headquarters and called it the report of the oxygen audit committee. It is an insult to people who lost their loved ones because of BJP's oxygen mismanagement. Were the patients, doctors, and hospitals lying? So many parties went to the court – were they all lying? BJP leaders are lying," said Sisodia.
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