A political storm erupted on Friday with the BJP quoting an interim report purportedly submitted to the Supreme Court by an expert panel to accuse Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of inflating oxygen requirement for the capital by four times during the peak of the Covid second surge.
AAP questioned the veracity of the report, claiming it was “manufactured in the BJP headquarters” and had neither been approved nor signed by the Supreme Court expert panel.
12 States deprived: Patra
The cited report was circulated by the BJP and the ruling party’s national spokesperson, Sambit Patra, quoted from it, underlining that Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP were guilty of “criminal negligence and lies” that cost lives in 12 other States from where oxygen supplies had to be diverted to Delhi.
Union ministers, including Nirmala Sitharaman (Finance) and Piyush Goyal (Railways) Tweeted comments. “SC oxygen audit team finds Delhi Govt inflated oxygen need by 4 times during peak & affected supply to 12 high caseload states. Hope accountability is fixed for disrupting oxygen supply across India,” said Piyush Goyal.
Others, especially the ruling party MPs from Delhi, were more explicit.
Fighting for people: CM
Kejriwal said he was only guilty of “fighting for the breath of 2 crore people of Delhi”.
“You were addressing election rallies and I was up all night arranging oxygen; I fought, I begged for oxygen. People have lost their loved ones because there was no oxygen. Don’t call them liars,” said the Delhi CM.
His Deputy, Manish Sisodia, denied the existence of the report altogether and maintained that what the BJP leaders are quoting from is a “report manufactured in the BJP headquarters”.
Produce the report: Sisodia
“The truth is that there is no such report. The report which is being quoted actually does not exist. The BJP is lying. We have spoken to several members of this Oxygen Audit Committee. They have not approved any report nor have they signed one. What is the authenticity of this report that they are citing? I challenge them to produce a report which has been approved and signed by the members of the Audit Committee. There is a limit to lying and deceit. This matter is sub judice and such conspiracies are an insult to the judicial process,” he said.
But the BJP maintained that it was an interim report of the oxygen audit in Delhi.
Sambit Patra said: “I am quoting from the Interim Report of Oxygen Audit in NCT of Delhi. The Supreme Court is hearing a case on oxygen supply shortage. Delhi Government has consistently maintained that the Centre did not supply adequate quantum of oxygen to the Capital. The SC set up an expert panel to enquire into this. I am sorry to report that the panel report now says that the oxygen requirement cited by the Delhi Government was four times inflated than it was actually required.
False alarm: BJP
“The saddest part is that because of this lie of Kejriwal, there are 12 States that were adversely affected. States like UP, Haryana suffered because oxygen had to be diverted to Delhi. This is the sin Arvind Kejriwal and AAP have committed. This is criminal negligence. They wanted to shift blame and created a false alarm.”
Patra said that the SC panel has used the term “gross discrepancy” for the oxygen requirement presented by the Delhi Government. On Page 13, he pointed out, there is a scientific tabulation that Kejriwal had inflated the oxygen requirement four times. “It says that in the 4th meeting on May 13, it was discussed that there is a gross discrepancy (about 4 times) in that the actual oxygen consumption claimed (1,140 MT) was about 4 times higher than the versus calculated consumption by formula for bed capacity (289 MT),” said Patra, claiming to quote from the report.
The BJP spokesperson quoted a Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organisation (PESO) report to say that the “NCT of Delhi had surplus oxygen supply which is affecting the Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) supply of other States.”
Patra said that on May 3, Mumbai and Delhi had similar number of cases — Mumbai 92,000 and Delhi 95,000. “Then how is it that the oxygen requirement for Mumbai was 275 MT and Delhi required 900 MT? This is because Kejriwal wanted to shift the blame to the Centre,” Patra alleged.
Patra said the expert panel report says that Kejriwal had claimed the Delhi Government’s calculation is according to ICMR guidelines. “But when the SC Audit Team asked him for an ICMR guideline copy, he said there was no such guideline. He lied to the Supreme Court. Kejriwal and their other leader Raghav Chadha raised different demands for oxygen within a single day. This is a conspiracy to cover up their own mismanagement,” said Patra.
“Oxygen requirement calculation sheet shared by GNCTD has a lot of errors,” said the report circulated by the BJP.