"You should start working together on it (creation of buffer). In a war when there is a common enemy, you unite against it," the court said.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre and the Delhi government to work together to create the oxygen buffer and streamline the distribution process for which help of the armed forces can be sought as “there is grave urgency”.
“You should start working together on it (creation of buffer). In a war when there is a common enemy, you unite against it,” the court said while also making an observation that it appeared that the Delhi government has not taken steps for creation of a buffer of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) and for streamlining its distribution in the national capital.
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A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli also said it is for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to explore the various possibilities to create storage facilities for LMO and oxygen cylinders in the city.
It said the obligation to create an oxygen buffer fell on both the Centre and GNCTD as per the Supreme Court’s April 30 order.
It asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma to seek instructions with regard to seeking aid from the armed forces for “setting up on a war footing storage tanks for LMO”.
An official from the Ministry of Defence, who later joined the proceedings, said she “sees no difficulty in enabling the Delhi government” to set up the tanks.
Besides the help of the armed forces, the bench said the GNCTD may also take the assistance of the Delhi Technological University to prepare a blueprint for storage and distribution of oxygen in the city.
The observations and directions by the bench came after one of the lawyers present in the hearing said that large static cryogenic tanks for storing LMO are available and can be installed in the city to create a buffer of the life saving gas.
The lawyer, Aditya Prasad, said that smaller tankers can pick up oxygen from the larger tanks and distribute it in the city and in this way Delhi need not fall upon other states or Centre for tankers to transport oxygen.
He said the tanks can be installed with the help of the Army.
The court also noted that oxygen supplier INOX manufactures such static cryogenic tanks and there may be others and it was for the Delhi government to explore all the possibilities for creating storage facilities for oxygen.
The bench asked the Centre and Delhi government to identify the necessary areas where such tanks can be safely installed and to also create infrastructure for the purpose of distribution of both LMO and oxygen cylinders in the city.
It asked the Centre and Delhi government to jointly locate vendors who could provide storage facilities and logistics for transporting LMO and oxygen generation plants and also distribution of the gas.
Prasad, during the hearing, told the court that his research has identified several vendors providing oxygen storage tanks, oxygen generation plants and Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) plants and said that the Delhi government should also carry out research like he did and procure the necessary equipment to create the infrastructure for generation, transportation and storage of oxygen in the city.
The court asked Prasad to share his research with the Delhi government and amicus curiae Rajshekhar Rao.
It directed the Delhi government to examine the quotations obtained by Prasad and to also look for other vendors who could meet the requirements and asked them to file a report on the aspect by Friday, May 7.
The court was hearing several pleas regarding the issues related to COVID-19 that Delhi is grappling with presently.