Delhi govt ‘exaggerated’ oxygen needs by 4 times during second wave peak: report

Oxygen cylinders kept for treating Covid patients in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: R.V. MOORTHY

A report submitted by a Supreme Court-appointed oxygen audit team led by AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria said the Delhi government “exaggerated” its oxygen needs by four times during the peak days of the second wave of the pandemic.

But the report also quoted the Delhi government’s version that the supply of oxygen from neighbouring States was “erratic and unreliable” at the time.

The report is annexed with an affidavit filed by the Health Ministry in the Supreme Court.


The Sub-group on Oxygen Audit Delhi led by Dr. Guleria recorded in its interim report that there was “gross discrepancy” in claims of oxygen consumption in Delhi. The oxygen consumption was portrayed as four times more than was actually required.

“There was gross discrepancy [about four times] in that the actual oxygen consumption claimed [1140 MT] was about four times higher than the calculated consumption based on the formula for bed capacity (289 MT),” the report said.

‘Supply was awry’

However, the sub-group referred to the Delhi government’s version that the schedule for the supply of oxygen was awry during those crunch days in May. Delhi had required adequate liquid medical oxygen stock to treat COVID-19 patients. It had to replenish its oxygen supply and avoid an “SOS situation which the State had witnessed after April 24 on a consistent basis”.

At one point, the report recorded, the Centre was “anguished” over the discrepancy in liquid medical oxygen data uploaded.

The report said it was not clear “on what basis an allocation of 700 MT was sought by the Government of Delhi in the Supreme Court when the collected data had so many gross errors and it took an oxygen audit to point out the same”.

On May 5, the court ordered the Centre to burn the midnight oil and prepare a “comprehensive plan” for the supply of 700 MT of oxygen to Delhi on a daily basis. On May 7, it warned the Centre of “coercive action” if it did not supply 700 MT every day to Delhi. The orders had come amidst a large number of deaths during the raging second wave of the pandemic.

‘Wrong formula used’

But the sub-group report noted that the “Government of Delhi used a wrong formula and made exaggerated claims on April 30” in the court about the daily need for oxygen.

“Some hospitals could not differentiate between KL and MT and the same was not examined while projecting 700 MT,” the report said. It was “obvious there was an excess supply of oxygen to Delhi… Tankers in Delhi could not offload oxygen and were lying idle as oxygen tanks in various hospitals were completely filled”.

The report referred to a Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation study that said liquid medical oxygen tanks in Delhi were filled to the capacity of 71% on May 10 morning and it was not possible to accommodate the “additional 700 MT, if supplied”.

There was also inadequate infrastructure to store 700 MT. The average daily consumption of oxygen was between 284 MT and 372 MT. Delhi had “surplus oxygen, which is affecting liquid medical oxygen supplies to other States.... It is a disaster waiting to happen, if it continues like this”.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 10:40:39 AM |

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