Oxygen shortage: Karnataka HC sets one-hour deadline to Centre, State

Taking note of the death of patients in Chamarajanagar due to lack of oxygen, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday gave a one-hour deadline to both the Central and State governments to explain shortage of oxygen in Karnataka.

The court directed the Central government to inform by 2.30 p.m. on increasing the allocation of oxygen to Karnataka as the Centre has allocated only 865 tonnes as against 1,700 tonnes requisitioned by the State.

And the State government was asked to explain whether it has been utilising only 441 tonnes of oxygen per day as on April 28 as was referred to in an order of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court order has recorded that Karnataka has the capacity to produce 625 tonnes per day, the need was 770 tonnes, and the allocation made by the Central government is 802 tonnes. The State government had told the High Court that it estimated the requirement at 1,400 tonnes as on April 30 whereas the Central government has allocated 802 tonnes.

A Special Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar issued the directions at around 1.15 p.m. while advancing the hearing on PILs related to COVID-19 issues to take judicial note of death of at least 24 COVID-19 patients in the district hospital in Chamarajanagar district on May 2 and 3 allegedly in view of shortage of oxygen. Regular hearing of these PILs was originally posted for May 5.

Though the Bench indicated that it is in favour of ordering a judicial probe into the incident of oxygen shortage at Chamarajanagar and other incidents in Kalaburagi and other places, the Advocate-General said that the government has initiated a preliminary inquiry and a full-fledged inquiry can be ordered once the report of preliminary inquiry is available.

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