Supreme Court Intervenes: Seeks National Plan for Covid Management

When patients died due to shortage of oxygen and critical medicines, various High Courts intervened and passed appropriate orders. Even Delhi High Court observed in a tough language to beg, borrow or take any other stringent measures to save human lives. Kolkata High Court reminded Election Commission to perform their constitutional duty citing TN Sheshan. This speaks of the agony of judiciary towards total mismanagement of Covid. Finally Supreme Court took self-cognizance and sought the National plan for Covid management particularly for the supply of oxygen, critical drugs and vaccine. Hon’ble Court also observed that; the situation is somewhat similar to National emergency and must be acted on war footing.

After intervention of judiciary, the priority of centre has partly shifted from the election to Covid management and the election rally of Prime Minister was converted from physical to virtual mode but the rallies still continue to take place. That reveals about the high priority attached to election despite the health emergency. So far, the election schedule is neither deferred nor compressed to one phase, as demanded by all other parties. The election and religious rallies have already damaged and might be super spreader of corona in the coming days. It is indeed a matter of grave concern.

Oxygen crisis is a consequence of the management crisis.Total production of Oxygen in India (including captive plants of large consumers) is more than the current requirement of medical oxygen. Oxygen, as a by-product of Nitrogen producing plants, is the additional quantity. However, the consumption of industrial oxygen has to be temporarily curbed in a rationale manner.

Actual problem is the shortage of cryogenic tankers for transporting liquid oxygen and the oxygen cylinders for filling gaseous oxygen. Longer turn down time for re-filling the oxygen enlarges the shortage of tankers and cylinders. It means, the tankers and cylinders must be procured/ imported in a big way. Till such time, micro management of logistics is needed. We have already lost precious time and now more time is needed to resolve the problems. Loss of precious lives on this count is definitely unacceptable.

Lately, the Government has unchained its purse strings and extended the financial support to domestic vaccine manufacturers for increasing production. Lately, the import of vaccine is initiated. Smooth supply of critical drugs is probably on the fast track. Though the ground results are still awaited. Several lives are also being lost on this count.

We understand that; despite second Sero survey report in November-2020, India has not framed any firm national plan. Probably, the epidemic experts were not consulted. Now action is being taken after facing severe crisis. The States, in general, have neither adequate expertise nor the required resources. More so, they can’t speak to country heads of other nations directly. Interstate supply of oxygen is causing conflicts. At this unprecedented critical juncture, the centre should assume responsibility without losing further time. Instead of shifting responsibilities, it must
include the States and experts in its plans and programmes and deploy all resources.

The States should also not shift responsibility on centre alone. They could not arrange sufficient beds in hospital. Even the medical staff seemed inadequate. The States must take lessons from the first wave and act swiftly. It is high time we unite and work as a team and save lives of our countrymen.

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