An interim report prepared by a Supreme Court-appointed audit team has found that the oxygen crisis in Delhi was a hoax and artificially created by exaggerating the actual demand. The panel noted that the Delhi government exaggerated the oxygen requirement by more than four times between April 25 and May 10 when the second wave of the COVID-19 was at its peak.
The report also stated that the exaggerated demand by Delhi could have affected Oxygen supply to 12 states where the COVID-19 caseload was high. During the period when COVID-19 cases swelled rapidly in the national capital and people gasped for breath, several hospitals in Delhi sent SOS calls as they ran out of oxygen. Several patients across hospitals had died due to the shortage in oxygen supply.
The shortage claim led to a bitter exchange of words between the Delhi government and the Centre. The Delhi government had also approached the Supreme Court demanding higher allocation of oxygen by the Centre. During the hearing in the top court, the Centre urged the court to conduct an audit to find the actual requirement of oxygen in Delhi.
The Supreme Court had set up a 12-member task force to audit the oxygen requirement. The SC panel, in its report submitted to the top court, said that while the actual O2 requirement in Delhi was 289 MT, the Delhi government claimed it to be 1200 MT, much higher than the actual demand calculated based on the bed capacity formula.
The SC task force also submitted that oxygen tankers could not be offloaded at various hospitals on May 13 as their tanks already had over 75 per cent oxygen as per their capacity. The Delhi government’s data stated that Oxygen consumption in the state did not exceed 350 MT between April 29 to May 10.
The panel also emphasised on local manufacturing of oxygen to meet at least 50 per cent of the demand and said that a strategy should be dev for this.
The panel in its report suggested that all 18 metro cities should be made oxygen-independent with a storage capacity of at least 100 MT each.
According to reports, the Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organisation (PESO) informed the panel that Delhi had surplus oxygen, which affected liquid medical oxygen (LMO) supply to other states in need.