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Bombay HC: Centre reduced oxygen supply to Maharashtra when 40% patients are here

Stating that the Union Health Ministry's April 18 communication had hit Maharashtra as a bolt from the blue, a division bench comprising Justices Sunil Sukre and SM Modak sought to know why the oxygen supply to Nagpur from a plant in Chhattisgarh's Bhilai was cut down to 60 metric tonnes from 110 metric tonnes despite the fact that the region accounted for over 40 per cent of the Covid-19 patients in the country.

Bombay HC restores oxygen supply to Maharashtra reduced by Centre-VPN
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New Delhi, First Published Apr 22, 2021, 11:33 AM IST
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The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, in a late evening hearing on Wednesday, questioned the Union Health Ministry's intent behind cutting down on the oxygen supply to Maharashtra and directed that normal supply be restored immediately.

Stating that the Union Health Ministry's April 18 communication had hit Maharashtra as a bolt from the blue, a division bench comprising Justices Sunil Sukre and SM Modak noted the oxygen supply to Nagpur from a plant in Chhattisgarh's Bhilai was cut down to 60 metric tonnes from 110 metric tonnes despite the fact that the region accounted for over 40 per cent of the Covid-19 patients in the country.

Here are excerpts from the court's order of directions:

"As per the figures given to us across the bar by Mr Thakare, the Nagpur Collector, the total requirement of oxygen of Nagpur is 166.5 metric tons, and the total requirement of remaining districts of Vidarbha Region is of about 60 to 100 metric tons. That means the total requirement of oxygen of Vidarbha Region is 266.5 metric tons at its maximum."

"We are informed that Nagpur has certain oxygen generating units, and their total capacity to generate oxygen is 146 metric tons per day. We have also been told that Praxair and Linde had been, till recently, supplying 110 metric tons of liquid oxygen every day. But, now this supply has been reduced to 60 metric tons as per the communication dated April 18 issued by the Union Health Ministry." 

"The figures noted down just now would show that there is a shortfall of about 100 metric tons between the demand and supply of oxygen, and on the backdrop of this shortfall, the communication has hit Maharashtra as a bolt from the blue. Although there was no order, the practice that was consistently followed was of supplying liquid oxygen in the quantity of 110 metric tons per day by Praxair." 

"In this situation of emergency poignantly enveloping a region which accounts for almost 40% Covid patients of the entire nation, the communication from the Union Health Ministry should have been to the effect of increasing the supply of liquid oxygen to Maharashtra from the present practice of 110 metric tons per day to somewhere between 200 to 300 metric tons per day. Unfortunately, the things have been turned in a reverse manner, and it has affected Covid patients in Maharashtra and in particular the Vidarbha Region very severely."

"Considering the dire need of these patients and also total share of Covid patients of this State in the entire cases in the country, we deem it necessary that the earlier practice of supply of 110 metric tons of oxygen per day by Praxair-Bhilai is restored and accordingly, we direct that notwithstanding the communication issued by the Union Health Ministry, Praxair-Bhilai shall supply 110 metric tons of liquid oxygen to Maharashtra until further orders."

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