Oxygen politics between Delhi, Haryana and UP

Far from hospital corridors, the oxygen crisis in the national capital also played out in the corridors of power as Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh traded charges over supply of oxygen to hospitals in the city.

The Delhi government, which had until Tuesday been accusing Uttar Pradesh of curbing supply of oxygen to the capital, was on Wednesday accused by Haryana of stealing oxygen from a tanker.

Haryana health minister Anil Vij said the tanker was on its way to supply oxygen to hospitals in Faridabad. To avoid a repeat of such an incident, Vij said he had issued instructions that all tankers carrying oxygen across Haryana would be escorted by state police force.

“I came to know that the tanker was stopped by certain people in Delhi yesterday, while it was on its way to Faridabad for distributing oxygen to certain hospitals. If the governments forcibly start stealing oxygen like this, it will lead to chaos. It is highly condemnable,” he said in a video.

Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia responded: “Delhi does not have any oxygen plant so the allegation that we looted their truck is baseless… There is a problem in bringing oxygen to Delhi. I was reading a report which said that the reason for limited supply of oxygen in many hospitals in Delhi today was because the oxygen that was earmarked for Delhi from a plant in Faridabad was monopolised and directed towards Haryana by an official from the Haryana government.”

He added: “When the central government has to decide on the quota of oxygen for each state, then state governments should not come in between and hoard oxygen. Similar ordeal took place yesterday in a plant near Modi Nagar (Ghaziabad) when we had to call a senior central government minister. It was only after his help that the oxygen supply reached Delhi. I plead to the Centre to ensure that state governments don’t take undue monopoly over oxygen and make sure this does not become a fight between state governments,” he said.

During the day, hospitals in Delhi said that Linde India Limited, which supplies oxygen to them from their Faridabad plant, had been stopped by the Haryana government from supplying oxygen outside the state. Senior Delhi government officials echoed this allegation, claiming that Faridabad Deputy Commissioner Garima Mittal had stopped oxygen from the plant.

Mittal, however, denied the allegations: “We have not stopped any suppliers from providing oxygen to Delhi, or stopped any vehicles engaged in this. We have received no such orders.”

By evening, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shared some reassuring news, tweeting: “Central government has increased Delhi’s quota of oxygen. We are very grateful to centre for this.”

According to officials, Delhi was getting 378 metric tonnes of oxygen till Wednesday afternoon, which has now been increased to 480 metric tonnes. The Delhi government had asked for the allocation to be increased to 700 metric tonnes.

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