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Delhi asks Centre to send in Army for beds, oxygen

Delhi asks Centre to send in Army for beds, oxygen
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New Delhi: The Delhi government on Monday told the Delhi High Court that Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had now written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, seeking the Indian Army's help to set up 10,000 oxygenated non-ICU beds and 1,000 ICU beds and man these facilities as well.

Following this, the Central government told the court that the matter is in the knowledge of the Defence Minister and he is looking into the issue.

The Delhi government's SOS to send in the cavalry came after the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli had last week nudged the former to seek the help of the Armed Forces.

In his letter to Singh, Sisodia said that Delhi was getting 25,000 new cases every day, 10 per cent of whom need to be hospitalised and that while his government was already augmenting bed capacity, these beds would be occupied the moment they are operationalised.

The Dy CM went on to say that given how overwhelmed the healthcare system already was, it is important that the Army be sent in to set up the required number of beds. The Delhi government also requested the Defence Minister to ensure that the Army also arrange the supply of medical oxygen required for the beds they will set up.

In addition to this, Sisodia said that despite the Centre having increased Delhi's allocation to 590MT per day, most of it was coming from far-off plants and sought the Army's help to provide the Capital with cryogenic tankers to transport the LMO from the plants at the earliest.

Delhi's Dy CM went on to request that the Armed Forces also provide 40,000 D-Type medical oxygen cylinders.

But even as the Centre said it was looking into the requests, Senior advocate Abhinav Vashisht, one petitioner in the matter, told the court, "We are going around in circles...it is a very complex problem. War footing requires Army to do it (taking over oxygen supply)…"

However, when senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal argued that the Delhi government should make a request directly to the local commanders in this regard to that the coordination time is reduced, Mehra responded by saying that the Centre might disapprove of such a move and preferred to wait for a response from the Defence Ministry first.

The court eventually said that once the approval is received for bringing in the Army to take over the oxygen supply chain, appropriate directions will be passed.

"During the Commonwealth Gamers in the capital, a bridge collapsed during that time and the armed forces were brought it on an urgent basis…" Vashisht further told the court.

On this, the court said that it is conscious of the fact and has directed the Delhi government to look into the issue.

On this, senior advocate Rahul Mehra, on behalf of Delhi government submitted, "This will take a day or two to fructify...it was communicated to the Raksha Mantri (Defense Minister) by the Deputy CM".

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