The Delhi government exaggerated the oxygen requirement in the national capital by more than four times during the April 25-May 10 peak period of the COVID-19 second wave, an audit team appointed by the Supreme Court has reportedly found.
According to a report by The Times of India, the oxygen audit team also informed the apex court that the supply of excess oxygen to Delhi could have affected supply to 12 states with a high caseload.
“There was a gross discrepancy (about four times). The actual oxygen consumption claimed by the Delhi government (1,140MT) was about four times higher than the calculated consumption as per the formula based on bed capacity (289 MT),” the newspaper cited the audit sub-group as saying in its report.
Further, the Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organisation (PESO) reportedly told the SC-appointed sub-group that the “National Capital Territory of Delhi had surplus oxygen, which is affecting liquid medical oxygen (LMO) supply to other states”. It noted that the situation may lead to a national crisis, according to the news report.
“It’s unbelievable to see that Arvind Kejriwal and the Delhi government politicised oxygen supply when COVID-19 was at its peak. This is such petty politics. The data presented by Oxygen Audit Committee in the report is shocking,” BJP leader Sambit Patra said.
However, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister and senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia dismissed the matter saying no such report exists. “If the Supreme Court hasn’t released any such report by the Oxygen Audit Committee, are BJP leaders making these imaginary reports sitting in their headquarter? I challenge BJP leaders to release this report,” Sisodia said in a video posted by AAP on Twitter.
“If members of the Oxygen Audit Committee have said that they haven’t signed and approved any report, where did such a report come from?” Sisodia questioned the BJP.
On May 5, during the peak of the second wave of novel coronavirus infections, a Justice DY Chandrachud-led bench of the top court had directed the Centre to maintain oxygen supply of 700 MT to Delhi even as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had presented experts’ calculation pegging the need to be around 415 MT of LMO. The direction came after the Delhi government raised alarm over a shortage in oxygen supply.
During the April-May period, the national capital had witnessed a major shortage of oxygen, available beds, and medicines required for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. On April 20, 2021, Delhi had reported around 28,000 new COVID-19 cases during a 24-hour period.