Delhi “Exaggerated” Oxygen Need By 4 Times: Row Over Interim Report

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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:

The Delhi government exaggerated the city’s oxygen requirement by four times during the peak of the Covid crisis in April-May and the supply of excess oxygen “affected other states”, a Supreme Court audit team has said in an interim report. Delhi Government sources say there is “no such report” and call it “a mischievous attempt”.

“The Delhi government’s claim of 1,140 Metric Tonnes was four times the calculated consumption as per the formula based on bed capacity, which was 289 MT only,” says an interim report of a sub-group appointed by the Supreme Court.

Delhi Government sources say there is “no such report” and call it “a mischievous attempt”. No such report has been signed off by the sub-group, sources say.

The panel, 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 PESO study.

The 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, it said, adding that the infrastructure was inadequate for storing 700 MT, the amount that the Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to supply to Delhi. Delhi had “surplus oxygen, which is affecting the supplies to other states and are a disaster in waiting, if it continues like this,” the PESO study said.

“The excess supply of oxygen affected other states in need of oxygen,” say the interim findings.

“It was discussed that there is a gross discrepancy (about 4 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),” the report says on discussions in the sub-group.

Four Delhi hospitals claimed high consumption of oxygen with fewer beds, the interim findings say. “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,” says the document.

The comments tie in with the Centre’s allegation of inflated demands by Delhi.

In April-May, as a 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.

The Delhi Government told the sub-group that data captured on its official portal was more reliable than data submitted in forms created specifically by the sub-group and the actual consumption, according to the Delhi government portal, was 442 MT. The requirement calculated from data captured using the excel sheet was 490 MT. “It was concluded that the total consumption of Delhi is not less than 500 MT,” the Delhi government said.

The sub-group has recommended that 300 MT oxygen should be made available to Delhi on an assured basis and an additional quota of 100 MT also be made available so that Delhi can lift it by 4 pm.

Delhi has to keep buffer stock of 50-100 MT for any emergency, it suggests. With cases coming down and hospitals setting up oxygen plants and increased availability of oxygen concentrators, the average daily requirement of Delhi is around 400 MT. The group says a fixed quota should be available for Delhi and the unutilised quota should be given to other states.

The Supreme Court will take up the interim report on May 30.

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