In a new turn of events, an audit team appointed by the Supreme Court of India found that Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal government allegedly 'exaggerated' the national capital's oxygen requirement. According to findings by the Oxygen Audit of Delhi committee, the government inflated the actual oxygen requirement by more than four times in the period of April 25-May 10, which witnessed a peak in Covid-19 cases amid the second wave.
What is the Oxygen Audit Committee?
The 12-member task force had been formed by the SC on May 8 with the aim of improving the system of oxygen distribution in the country. A separate sub-group was formed for Delhi which includes AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, Max Healthcare's Sandeep Budhiraja along with senior IAS officers from the Centre and Delhi each.
What did the Committee find?
According to reports, the SC appointed committee found that the Delhi government had allegedly inflated the number the national capital's oxygen requirements by over four times between April 25-May 10. The Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to supply 700 metric tonnes to Delhi daily to meet its oxygen shortage.
The committee, however, was reportedly informed by the Petroleum and Oxygen Safety Organization that Delhi had surplus oxygen that other states could have used instead. The continuous excess supply to Delhi could have led to a national crisis.
As per calculation done on the basis of bed capacity, Delhi required only 289 metric tonnes of oxygen. But the government put forth the requirement of up to 1140 metric tonnes. It was about 4 times more than the estimated requirement.
How did the BJP react to the report?
Following the committee's findings, the Kejriwal government came under intense attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders such as its National General Secretary BL Santosh. Taking to Twitter, Santosh wrote, "Will Arvind Kejriwal, MS Sisodia hold their customary briefing at 12 noon and apologise to the nation for their criminal act of claiming excess O2 and by endangering lives of thousands who could have been provided that oxygen? Shameless people."
BJP’s Sambit Patra also attacked AAP during a separate press conference, “Many lost their family members in Jaipur Golden hospital and in Batra hospital, now this report has revealed that Arvind Kejriwal is responsible for these deaths. We are sure Kejriwal will be held accountable for criminal negligence in these deaths in the SC. AAP’s focus has been only on advertising and zero management. They’ve spent 1000 crores on advertisements. They kept lying."
How did the AAP react to the report?
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has staunchly refuted the accusations. Reacting to the report, chief minister Kejriwal said, "My crime is I fought for the lives of Delhi's 2 crore population".
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia also denied the existence of such a report by the SC committee.
"There is no such report. We have spoken to the members of the Oxygen Audit Committee formed by the Supreme Court. They said they have not signed or approved any such report," Sisodia said on Friday.
He added that the BJP is presenting a false report that it prepared at its "party headquarters".
"I challenge them to present such a report which has signatures of the members of the oxygen audit committee," Sisodia said. By doing this, Sisodia said that the BJP is not abusing CM Arvind Kejriwal, but "those who lost their family members due to oxygen shortage when coronavirus cases were at its peak, he said and accused the Union government of mismanagement "which led to the oxygen crisis".