Observing that the State is facing a grave situation due to the COVID-19 surge, the High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday directed the Central government to immediately increase the allocation of oxygen to the State to 1,200 MT per day from the present 865 MT per day.
Prima facie there is a justification for the quantity of oxygen demanded by the State government as the Central government has neither contended that the demand is on the higher side nor has disputed it, the court observed.
The court noted that the State government had sought allocation of oxygen in the range of 1,471 MT to 1,791 MT per day during the period April 30 to May 5 based on the total active COVID-19 cases while indicating that the minimum requirement would be 1,162 MT.
However, the Centre had allocated only 802 MT during last week of April and it was increased to 865 MT from May 1 after the court had asked the Centre to consider increasing in allocation.
Meanwhile, the court directed the State government to submit a fresh request to the Centre on oxygen requirement while directing the Central government to consider the State’s future request as well as the present request for increasing allocation to 1,792 MT.
A Special Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar issued the direction after not being satisfied with the Central government’s offer of increasing the allocation to 965 MT.
The Bench said that the Central government would increase the allocation of oxygen to Karnataka to 1,200 MT immediately till it considers the State’s request for 1,892 MT per day. The Bench also indicated to the Centre that it would consider issuing further direction based the decision to be taken on the State’s request for allocation of 1,792 MT.
The State government had told the court that seven major producers of oxygen in Karnataka produce approximately 812 MT daily and have a storage capacity of 5,780 MT. Of the 865 MT allotted by the Centre, 695 MT of oxygen is drawn from within State, 60 MT is procured from Telangana, 110 MT is allocated from Vishakapatnam and Orissa, for which logistic arrangements are being made.
It was also pointed out to the Bench that the State government had lifted 671.75 MT on April 30, 650.97 MT on May 1, 691 MT on May and 722.71 MT on May 3.
Lack of policy
Meanwhile, noticing the lack of policy or guideline to manage and monitor supply of oxygen, the court directed the State government to come out with a policy for effective management.
Earlier, the Central government said that allocation of oxygen also depends on the use, in addition to the number of active COVID-19 cases. Also, the Central government counsel told the Bench that 100 cylinders were received as foreign aid while pointing out that it had allocated 150 oxygen filling cylinders, received as part of the aid, to Karnataka.