New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Questioning if human lives were not important to the government, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday again pulled up the Centre over the issue of oxygen shortage at Delhi hospitals and directed it to divert the the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes to the hospitals.

"Why Centre not waking up to gravity of situation? We are shocked and dismayed hospitals running out of oxygen but steel plants running," the court said while hearing an appeal by the Max hospitals, which had flagged oxygen crisis in two of its hospitals this afternoon.  

It also asked the central government to "consider ways and means for transporting oxygen to hospitals, either by creating dedicated corridor or airlift". 

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, which was conducting the hearing on a holiday, said the responsibility to ensure oxygen supply is squarely on Central government's shoulders and if necessary, entire supply of oxygen to industries including steel and petroleum can be diverted for medical usage.

"The steel and petrochemical industries are oxygen guzzlers and diverting oxygen from there can meet hospitals' requirements," the bench said.

"If Tatas can divert oxygen they are generating for their steel plants to medical use, why can't others? This is height of greed," an angry bench told the Centre. 

When the Centre said it was surprised by the petition, the judges said, "Don't get surprised by this petition. You should know the situation... Yesterday we told you about the petroleum and steel industries' oxygen. What have you done?"

The Max Hospitals stated in its petition that its hospital at Patparganj, has currently only 3 hours of supply of oxygen and if oxygen runs out, the life of 400 patients including 262 COVID-19 patients is under threat. A number of the patients are critical and on ventilator support and ICU, it stated. 

On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court said that economic interests can not override human lives and in view of various hospitals in the national capital running low on oxygen, the Centre should immediately implement the ban on industrial use of oxygen instead of waiting till April 22.

The court had said oxygen supply of various hospitals will run out in 4-8 hours and in such a situation there was no justification in implementing the ban from April 22 as the need was now.

The court directed the Centre to forthwith implement the ban and divert the oxygen to hospitals running out of the same as any further delay will lead to loss of precious lives. 

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta