Kolkata: The central and the West Bengal government locked horns over the supply of oxygen from the state to other states following the oxygen crisis in different hospitals in Delhi amid an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.
A day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the Centre not to divert the oxygen scheduled for the state to other states, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs wrote back to all the states and union territories to comply with the order of Delhi High Court and allow transportation of oxygen without any hindrance.
In a letter written to all the chief secretaries by the Disaster Management Division under MHA it has been mentioned that Delhi High Court has directed to ensure that the supplies from all oxygen producing plants is made as per allocation and transportation takes place without any hindrance.
“Court also directed to ensure adequate security to the lorries transporting oxygen and its non-obstruction on the way,” the letter said.
“Hon’ble High Court has further directed that non-compliance of the said order will invite action for contempt of court and also invite criminal and penal action under the Disaster Management Act and under the Indian Penal Code,” the letter further added.
The union ministry has directed all the states and UTs to follow the directions of the court to ensure availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen across the country for management of Covid-19 patients, the letter said.
The letter comes after Banerjee alleged that the central government is diverting the oxygen scheduled for the state to other states and that will create shortage of supply of oxygen in the state which might jeopardize the treatment of Covid patients.
“When the entire country is reeling under the crisis of Oxygen, they have decided to divert the oxygen scheduled for the state to Uttar Pradesh. Sail – that used to supply oxygen to us has been asked to send the oxygen to UP. This will increase the crisis of Oxygen in our state,” the chief minister had said in a press conference on Friday.
Further the state issued a press note saying: “Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of India, recently on April 21 allotted 200 MT of Oxygen from different plants located in West Bengal to outside the state. As per current patient load and the rising trend of infections, it is expected that the consumption level in West Bengal will radically rise to roughly 450 MT per day in the next couple of weeks. Hence present allocation of Liquid Oxygen to outside West Bengal will jeopardize the medical treatment of Covid patients in the state.
“The Government of West Bengal has accordingly requested the Government of India on April 22 to consider the need of the state and not divert the medical oxygen available in the state elsewhere.”