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'People Should Not Lose Lives' : Delhi High Court Asks Centre To Inform Status Of Oxygen Concentrators Awaiting Customs Clearance

Srishti Ojha
3 May 2021 12:29 PM GMT
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The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre to inform the status of imported oxygen concentrators that are pending customs clearance.

A division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli asked the Centre's Counsel about the status of these concentrators as of 12pm on Monday. The Court was hearing the matter concerning Covid 19 situation and supply of medical oxygen in the national capital.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Krishnana Venugopal flagged before the Court, the issue of oxygen Concentrators stuck in customs.

He said that, he's been told that 100s of concentrators are stuck in customs, and the customs can be put on a war footing to clear immediately on priority. He added that these concentrators can be released first to hospitals, then individuals followed by distributors with an undertaking to not black market.

At this juncture, the Bench enquired about the status of pending oxygen concentrators.

"People should not lose lives for this. That there are resources but they are pending clearance", the bench observed.

In response to the Court's query as to the status of concentrators, Advocate Amit Mahajan appearing for Centre informed the Court that a Joint secretary has been appointed as nodal officer, and the concentrators are being cleared on priority.

"The question we're asking is if backlog of concentrators is lying. You're taking us round in circles." the Bench remarked.

Mahajan informed the Court that as of 30th April, 40,000 concentrators have been cleared.

Before the hearing concluded, the Bench reminded Mr Mahajan, that he has to get back to the Court on the issue of the concentrators. The Bench also, stated that it needs the status of concentrators pending clearance as of 12 pm on Monday (May 3rd).

Mr. Mahajan informed the Court that 2-3 hours will be taken as the data is being collated.

"There must be many then, if they're taking time." the Bench remarked

Mr Mahajan however clarified that it's taking time since data is to be collected from different places.

The Delhi High Court also directed Centre to report instructions on action taken on communication made by Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for lending services of armed forces to set up Covid 19 facilities, oxygen supply, etc.

In a related development, the Supreme Court has asked Centre to rectify the deficit in oxygen supply for the National Capital Territory of Delhi on or before May 3 midnight.

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