The State government, which has been requesting the Union government to increase Karnataka’s allocation of oxygen to 1,792 metric tonnes per day (MTD) based on the number of active COVID-19 cases, lifted only 650-670 MTD of the allocated 802 MTD between April 30 and May 2.
This mismatch related to the claims on estimation of oxygen requirement and utilisation came to light on Tuesday during the hearing of a batch of PIL petitions on COVID-19 issues by a Special Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar.
The State government had, on April 28, told the court that it had written a letter to the Centre stating that 1,471 MTD of oxygen would be the requirement for COVID-19 patients as on April 30. On Tuesday, the government again told the court that it had written another letter on April 30 to the Centre indicating that it required 1,792 MTD as on May 5 based on the active cases. It said the minimum requirement was about 1,162 MTD, as per the norm that 17% of the total active cases would require oxygenated beds and 3% ICU beds.
What SC chart said
However, the Bench noted a chart reproduced in the Supreme Court’s April 30 order on oxygen allocated to each State by the Centre that indicated that the oxygen production capacity in Karnataka, as on April 28, was 625 MTD. The allocation of 802 MTD was made as the State government had stated that it needed 770 MT of medical oxygen per day, but the government lifted only 441.19 MT as on April 26, the chart indicated.
When the Bench inquired about how much oxygen the State government has been lifting every day, Advocate-General Prabhuling K. Navadgi said the State had lifted 671.95 MT of oxygen on April 30 and 650.97 MT on May 1. He pointed out that due to some technical reasons, the entire lot could not be lifted for utilisation.
Mr. Navadgi also clarified to the Bench that 695 MT of oxygen was available from the plants within Karnataka and 110 MT was being routed through Odisha and Visakhapatnam.
On the other hand, Union government counsel M.N. Kumar told the Bench that the Centre had, on May 1, increased the oxygen allocation to Karnataka to 865 MTD from 802 MTD.
The Bench directed the Centre to take a decision by Wednesday morning on increasing allocation of oxygen to the State, pointing out that it intended to issue direction for increasing the oxygen allocation to Karnataka, on the lines of the direction issued by the Delhi High Court to the Centre.
If the Centre is not in favour of increasing oxygen allocation, then it has to say that the State government is making a false claim, the Bench observed orally.