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High Court suggests oxygen banks be set up across town

High Court suggests oxygen banks be set up across town

New Delhi: As the Delhi High Court continued to deal with the Covid crisis in the Capital, the Amicus senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao and the Delhi government have operationalised the process to set up some sort of oxygen banks across the city — which could also provide the facility of exchanging an empty cylinder for a filled one.

The matter was brought up on Tuesday when the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli was hearing Covid-related issues and senior advocate Rao brought up the issue of having to manage the firefighting and SOS messages coming from hospitals and residents.

While the major bottleneck so far had been the erratic supply of oxygen to the city and the lack of cylinders for people to get refilled, this solution, as suggested by the Delhi government would stop people from hoarding cylinders, bolster the city's reserve oxygen supplies and also help the Delhi government build a centralised stock of cylinders in the city.

Significantly, when the Amicus brought up the matter in the beginning of the hearing, the court also suggested that oxygen banks — something in the nature of blood or plasma banks — be set up across the city.

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government told the court that he would be taking the suggestions discussed in court into consideration and that the government had already prepared responses in this aspect.

He said that such a system could keep hoarding in check and offered the solution that at each of these oxygen banks or centre, people could bring in empty oxygen cylinders and take away filled ones in exchange. In fact, Senior Advocate Rao also suggested during the hearing that such a model could be the best way to ensure that the right cylinders are being used and people can build confidence in the system through this.

He had previously explained how someone he knew had shown up for an oxygen refill with a hydrogen cylinder.

However, even as the court insisted that the distribution of cylinders had to be decentralised for efficiency, the Delhi government brought up the issue of suppliers like Seth Air — who supply to refilers and smaller facilities in the city — not being able to keep up with the demand, following which the court asked the Delhi government to post officers at locations where the supply can be managed and overseen.

After the discussions in the high court, the Delhi government late on Tuesday night issued orders to create a common cylinder pool, assigning 20 filled cylinders to 11 DTC bus depots each in every district of the city, which will be circulated among hospitals and especially patients in home isolation.

According to the orders issued by the Transport Department, the cylinders can be exchanged in lieu of empty cylinders with the approval of the concerned District Magistrate and the order allows for each of these depots to use 10 per cent of their stocks to create a buffer to cater to SOS calls.

The orders added that the initial stock of 20 would be reworked and increased in a phase-wise manner soon.

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