Spotlight over lack of overseeing agency in State

A file photo of people waiting outside the district hospital in Chamarajanagar.  

The death of 24 people on May 2 and 3, allegedly owing to shortage of oxygen highlights a larger issue that pervades the State: the absence of an agency for overseeing equitable distribution of medical oxygen to different parts of Karnataka.

One of the most backward districts in Karnataka, Chamarajanagar does not have either a medical oxygen manufacturing facility or refilling and distribution units. Its dependence on medical oxygen suppliers from outside the district, particularly neighbouring Mysuru, has gone up sharply at a time when the number of COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen increased even in Mysuru.

With no overseeing authority, the Chamarajanagar administration was literally left to fend for itself. When a large number of COVID-19 patients were admitted to the hospitals, the demand for oxygen went up during the last 10 days, forcing the officials to plead with suppliers outside the district to ensure that its requirement of about 300 cylinders per day is met.

The disruption in timely supply of cylinders from Mysuru on May 2 and early hours of May 3, which allegedly led to the death of 24 persons, has now sparked off an ugly spat between the Deputy Commissioners of Mysuru and Chamarajanagar.

Amid speculation in a section of the media that Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru Rohini Sindhuri had objected to the supply of oxygen to Chamarajanagar, the Mysuru district administration issued a statement claiming that it had sent 250 cylinders to Chamarajanagar on Sunday and early on Monday.

But, Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar M.R. Ravi released a press statement disputing the claim and contended that the district hospital in Chamarajanagar did not receive proper response from Mysuru during the crisis.

Ms. Sindhuri on Wednesday sought to clarify that she neither rationed nor controlled oxygen supplies to Chamarajanagar and said that oxygen supplies to a district are entirely between the supplier/refiller and the district. “For example, Mysuru’s oxygen supplies are from Ballari. If the supplier from Ballari supplies less, I cannot blame the Deputy Commissioner of Ballari,” she reasoned, arguing that it was the responsibility of the district to manage their own supplies. If any oxygen supplier does not meet the requirements of a district, an intervention should be made by the State-level officers, she said.

Meanwhile, Mysuru, which is meeting the requirements of Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, and Mandya, has a combined refilling capacity of 75 kilolitres (KL) per day from its five refilling plants. Though there is no manufacturing plant, the refilling units sources liquid medical oxygen from Ballari, Koppal, and Bengaluru.

But, the refilling plants in Mysuru said they were unable to reach their capacity production due logistics.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 3:52:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/spotlight-over-lack-of-overseeing-agency-in-state/article34493479.ece

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