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Red tape holds back oxygen concentrators, Delhi High Court whip to Customs on release


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NEW DELHI:  The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre to provide details of oxygen concentrators lying with the Customs department pending clearance.

The directive came after senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal, representing Max Hospital, told the court that 3,000 concentrators belonging to the hospital were stuck with Customs. The Centre has denied any such consignment is stuck there.

Venugopal said there are hundreds of concentrators and Customs can be told to clear them immediately. He added these concentrators can be released first to hospitals, then individuals followed by distributors.

“People should not lose lives for this. That there are resources but they are pending clearance,” the bench observed. The Centre said that till date, 40,000 concentrators have been cleared.

Use of oxygen concentrators has gone up drastically. A number of hospitals in Delhi and other cities have been pleading for oxygen on social media.

The court also asked the Centre to submit its reply to the Delhi government’s request for assistance of the army to handle the Covid-19 situation in the capital.

A petition was filed seeking directions for handing over the management of oxygen to the army to ensure uninterrupted supply to hospitals.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, told the court that Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had already written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for the assistance of the army.

The bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli asked the Centre to share the details of oxygen supply, as directed by the Supreme Court. The Centre assured that it is trying its best to adhere to the directions.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)