Western Daily Press

India’s top court orders government to submit oxygen plan


INDIA’S highest court has ordered the government to submit a plan on meeting New Delhi hospitals’ oxygen requiremen­ts within a day.

The Supreme Court yesterday decided against immediatel­y punishing officials for failing to end a two-week-long erratic supply of oxygen to overstretc­hed hospitals.

“Ultimately, putting officers in jail or hauling officers for contempt will not bring oxygen. Please tell us steps to solve this,” Justice Chandrachu­d said during the hearing.

The hearing stayed the contempt notice issued to the government by a lower New Delhi High Court for defying its order on supplying adequate oxygen to more than 40 New Delhi hospitals. The government officials found guilty could have faced six months in prison or a fine.

With 382,315 new confirmed cases yesterday, India’s tally has risen to more than 20.6 million since the pandemic began. The Health Ministry yesterday reported 3,780 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 226,188. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.

On Tuesday, the New Delhi High Court court, which had summoned two Home Ministry officials for a hearing yesterday, said the grim reality is that hospitals are reducing the number of beds and asking patients to move elsewhere. The court was hearing petitions filed by several hospitals and nursing homes struggling with irregular oxygen supplies.

“You can put your head in the sand like an ostrich, we will not. We are not going to take no for an answer,” Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said, as the city’s hospitals were reportedly getting only 40% of their oxygen requiremen­ts through the federal government.

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