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Delhi returned excess oxygen due to storage problems, says interim report

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Even as the Delhi government continued to reiterate its demand for 700 MT of liquid medical oxygen in courts, it was returning excess oxygen or having it stored at plants instead, according to the national task force’s interim oxygen audit report.

On May 9, the Delhi government returned 74 MT of the 120 MT Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) supplied directly to it by M/s Linde Faridabad.

On May 10 M/s Air Liquide was requested by the Delhi government to store its 62MT LMO at their own plants in Roorkee and Panipat daily.

On the same day, the Delhi government requested Surajpur to store 37MT LMO at their Surajpur plant. It further directed various refillers to store 37.5 MT at their own plants.

A shortfall in supply was reported from JSW, Jharsuguda, “due to non-lifting of the allocated LMO by the Delhi government from their plant”, the interim report submitted to the apex court says.

The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) study on Delhi oxygen supply points out that supplier, M/s Goyal Gases, complained that the shortfall in Delhi was due to non-availability of space in the storage tanks of Delhi’s hospitals.

This was resulting in an increase of turnaround time for tankers and their inability to execute supplies in time. The interim report says that these factors led to several north Indian states facing LMO shortage.

Five states wrote to the Centre seeking additional LMO as active cases overtook Delhi’s tally.

The first letter came from the Punjab Chief Minister on May 4, seeking 50 MT additional LMO. Chandigarh wrote on May 5 seeking an allocation increase at least from 30MT to 35 MT.

On May 6, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sought an additional allocation of 360 MT LMO. Chief Secretary of Rajasthan wrote on May 7 saying the state had received one of the lowest allocation despite high case load. Uttarakhand Chief Secretary wrote on the same day seeking 70 MT LMO.

On May 8, the Haryana CM wrote saying that not only did the state have more cases than Delhi but it was also catering to 20-40% of Delhi patients in NCR hospitals.

The Delhi comparison was telling. By May 10, Delhi had created a reserve for about 112 MT LMO and filled storage tanks of all small dealers and hospitals tanks with LMO. Meanwhile, the number of active cases in Delhi had begun to drop — from one lakh plus on April 20 to about 85,000 on May 10 when 628 MT LMO was supplied to it.

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