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Supreme Court: Submit ATR on averting oxygen crisis

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to submit in two weeks its action-taken report (ATR) on implementing the recommendations of a court-appointed national task force (NTF) on allocation of oxygen to states and UTs to deal with Covid-19 pandemic.

On June 22, the NTF had recommended that India should have strategic reserves of medical oxygen for two-three weeks of consumption on the lines of the arrangements made for petroleum products.

A Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud said since the NTF consists of senior doctors and experts from across the country, it’s imperative for the Centre to take steps to ensure that its recommendations were duly implemented at the policy level to meet any exigencies in present and foreseeable future.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks along with the matter on Covid preparedness after the Centre’s counsel sought time to file an ATR on the NTF recommendations. It sought to know how the government intended to implement the recommendations.

The Bench is seized of the Centre’s petition challenging a Delhi High Court order initiating contempt proceedings against some central government officials for non-compliance with the HC’s direction to supply 700 MT of medical oxygen for Covid patients admitted to hospitals in the national capital. On May 5, it had stayed the contempt proceedings before the HC, saying putting officers in jail won’t bring oxygen. Amid wrangling over oxygen supply to hospitals, the Supreme Court had on May 6 set up the 12-member NTF to streamline allocation of the life-saving gas to states and UTs.

Comprising top medical experts, the NTF is tasked with formulating a methodology for allocation of oxygen and to facilitate a public health response to the pandemic. The Tribune