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Application in Supreme Court seeks transparency in COVID-19 resources

An application was filed on Thursday seeking complete transparency from the government on the supply, allocation and distribution of oxygen for COVID-19 patients, and the status of availability of hospital beds, drugs and essential supplies for treatment amid a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

Activist Anjali Bhardwaj, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, has sought to intervene in a suo motu proceedings before the apex court.

The intervention by Ms. Bhardwaj highlighted the need for “verified, updated information on availability of beds, essential drugs and distribution of oxygen, especially during the ongoing COVID pandemic, to ensure that citizens can access timely and effective medical treatment”.

Mr. Bhushan said there was complete lack of transparency, leaving patients and their primary care-givers either to the mercy of black marketeers or running from pillar to post to no avail. The application said, so far, the demand has far outweighed the supply.

“In such a scenario of demand far outstripping the limited resources and supplies, the applicant submits that it is crucial that credible, accurate and up-to-date information about the availability and utilisation of hospital beds, oxygen supply and essential drugs be made available in the public domain. Availability of this information will not only help COVID affected patients and their families in locating life-saving resources in a timely manner, but will also prevent black marketing, hoarding, extortion and cornering of resources by vested interests by enabling public monitoring,” the application said.

Mr. Bhushan, for Ms. Bhardwaj, contended that information should be proactively disclosed by the authorities in the public domain, in both online and off-lines modes and in such form, manner and language that it is most accessible to people as also envisaged by Section 4 of the Right to Information Act.

The intervention sought proactive disclosure of information by State and Central governments for each COVID-designated hospital under their jurisdiction through dedicated websites, and physically outside each hospital.

“In terms of availability of beds, hospital-wise disclosure every eight hours has been sought regarding number of available beds with oxygen, beds without oxygen, ICU beds equipped with ventilators and those without. On the issue of supply of essential drugs, the intervention seeks disclosure of the name and stock position of essential drugs held by each hospital,” the application said.

On the issue of supply of oxygen to States, the intervention suggested disclosure of information on a dedicated website by the Centre on the amount of oxygen required by each State, the date and time at which the request was made and details of the quantity of oxygen supplied, including the date and time of supply.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 10:00:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/application-in-supreme-court-seeks-transparency-in-covid-19-resources/article34501251.ece

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