Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “lying” about a report which suggests that the Aam Aadmi Party government in the national Capital exaggerated demand for oxygen in the city during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier on Friday, media reports cited an “interim report” by a Supreme Court-appointed panel which purportedly mentioned that the Delhi government inflated its demand for oxygen “by four times” during the second wave. The supply of excess oxygen to Delhi could have triggered a shortage in 12 other states with high caseloads, the interim report said, according to The Times of India.
The report in question was prepared by a Supreme Court-appointed oxygen audit panel led by All India Institute of Medical Sciences chief Randeep Guleria, according to NDTV. The interim report has been submitted by the Centre to the court in an affidavit in a case related to oxygen allocation, according to the news channel.
Sisodia, however, denied the claim and said that the panel had not approved any such report.
“The truth is that there is no such report,” Sisodia asserted. “The BJP leaders are lying…no such report exists. We spoke to a number of members of the Supreme Court panel who told us they have not signed and approved any report.”
He challenged BJP leaders to show a signed and approved copy of the report in question, adding that the saffron party had reached the “peak of lies and deceit”.
“Were those people begging and crying for oxygen lying? Were the hospitals making SOS calls lying?” Sisodia questioned.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal criticised the ruling BJP of holding election rallies when the national Capital faced oxygen shortages.
“My fault – I fought for life of two crore of my own people,” he said in a tweet. “I was arranging for oxygen, when you [the BJP] were busy in election rallies. I fought and begged for oxygen. People have lost their loved ones. Do not call them liars, they are feeling hurt.”
What the ‘interim report’ says
The report claimed there was a “gross discrepancy” in the oxygen consumption of 1,140 metric tonnes as claimed by the Delhi government between April 25 and May 10. The demand was four times more than the “calculated consumption” of 289 metric tonnes as per the “formula based on bed capacity”, The Times of India quoted from the said report.
The report also mentioned that four hospitals in Delhi – Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital and Liferay Hospital – “claimed extremely high consumption with very few beds,” according to PTI. “Their claims appear to be clearly erroneous leading to extremely skewed info and significantly higher oxygen requirement for the entire state.”
Oxygen crisis in Delhi and the SC-appointed panel
The second wave of coronavirus led to widespread shortages of medical oxygen and medicines in Delhi and several other states. Multiple hospitals in the city were forced to approach courts to ensure they received supplies of medical oxygen to save lives of Covid-19 patients. Several others have been sending out desperate SOS messages on social media as supplies ran dangerously low.
On April 30, as many as 12 patients, including a senior doctor, had died at Batra Hospital due to oxygen shortage. On April 24, at least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died after the hospital treating them ran out of oxygen.
While hearing a case on allocation of oxygen, the Supreme Court on May 7, warned the Centre that it will be compelled to take action if authorities do not provide 700 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to Delhi every day to help the city meet its demands to treat Covid-19 patients.
However, in the course of hearing the same matter, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah set up a panel comprising of Guleria, Max Healthcare Director Sandeep Buddhiraja, Delhi Principal Home Secretary Bhupinder Bhalla, among others, to carry out an audit of supply, distribution and utilisation of oxygen supply in the national capital.
The interim report is said to be drafted by this panel.