Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Why should patients die of lack of oxygen?

While thousands of people succumb to COVID, some more die because of lack of supply of oxygen. BBC reported on 23 April 2021 at 14.00 hours that 25 families lost someone they loved in Delhi because of inadequacy of oxygen. In spite of desperate public plea of Chief Minister about severe shortfall of oxygen, and appeal to High Court to direct Centre to get refills of oxygen, nothing happened. After repeated dire warning that 60 more patients were on the verge of death, the refills came. But by that time 25 died. Not just Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are waiting for oxygen refills. Similarly, 22 died on bed waiting for oxygen in Nashik of Maharashtra. There are several deaths from different parts of the country including Hyderabad in Telangana.

Pathetic economy and hopeless propaganda

India, five years ago thought to be front runners in economy, shockingly came down fast in rank to reach 164th position among 193 nations in the world, as per reports in February 2021. But major partners of media do commerce in dreams by propagating that India would overtake Germany in 2027, and Japan in 2030, will become world’s sixth-largest economy in 2030. When India is pushed to such a pathetic position even to import oxygen by chartered flights, it is difficult to believe that India will overtake another superpower or to be unhappy for the stooping down of our rank in terms of economy.

Corona & Elections

India has two things running with great speed and enthusiasm – Corona and Elections. While Corona virus is being tackled with high inefficiency, the parties are more efficiently organizing the rallies. For the last one month the top political leaders at centre are busy with election rallies in multi-phase elections. Now after judiciary and opposition using harsh language at the union government’s complacency, oxygen cylinders are being airlifted and moved by trains. Social Media platforms are full of interesting postings. While BJP leaders are posting photos of airlifting of cylinders, the critiques are showing how the supplies were delayed deliberately because of poojas and VIP arrivals, unmindful of the patients gasping for oxygen at their destinations.  Indian Express published how a BJP leader posed with vehicles carrying corpses of covid affected.

Our PM appreciated the Tata Group, that has announced that it will import 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen via special chartered flights.  In a tweet Tata Steel said: “Medical oxygen is critical to the treatment of #COVID19 patients. Responding to the National urgency, we’re supplying 200-300 tons of Liquid Medical Oxygen daily to various State governments & hospitals.” Its reported that the Tata Trusts and Tata Sons last year had donated ₹1,500 crore towards various relief funds for Covid-19 to provide protective equipment to medical personnel, testing kits, treatment facilities, etc.

Ignoring warning a year ago

The Government appointed an Empowered Group of 11 Officers, to suggest measures to implement an effective Covid response. The group warned the Government of possible shortage of oxygen in April 2020, and November 2020. Another committee with nine members was set up to ensure sufficient supply of oxygen. The demand increased from1000 metric tonnes per day to 3000 during the peak of Covid in September. The present pathetic situation proves that Government was non-responsive to these alarming bells.

Global reputation

thewire.in reported how the global media reported crisis in India and that The Guardian of London has held the Centre accountable with a headline ‘‘The system has collapsed’: India’s descent into Covid hell’.  The report has begun with Modi’s now infamous musing at a rally in Bengal, on the fact that he has not seen such large crowds before. COVID-19 guidelines prohibit large gatherings and call for social distancing.

More than High Courts and Supreme Court, it is for the Centre and States to pool in resources to augment supplies of oxygen. Peoples’ lives are more important. Covid patients cannot be allowed to die for a silly reason of shortage of oxygen.

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is former Central Information Commissioner and Professor of Law at Bennett University

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