The Delhi government increased its medical oxygen demand from 400 metric tonnes to 900 metric tonnes overnight with the number of cases steadily increasing in the capital. The central government cited the Mumbai model for optimum utilization of oxygen and told the apex court that Delhi's optimal need could not have been more than 415 metric tonnes. Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said, “Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has done a remarkable job. Without any disrespect to the Delhi government, can it take a leaf out of the MCGM experience in maintaining oxygen supply and its optimum utilization?”
The apex court also asked the center to comply with the orders of the court in supplying 700 MT of oxygen to the national capital, Delhi, every day from 3rd May. They also asked the central government to maintain transparency on the happenings in the oxygen supply crisis in Delhi in order to ensure that citizens are kept informed and in the loop. According to the Supreme Court, “the pandemic in Delhi is at a very critical stage," which is why the Oxygen crisis there must be dealt with at the earliest. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the SC that 500 metric tonnes of oxygen would be sufficient to manage the oxygen shortage in Delhi, but to this Justice DY Chandrachud said, " We had passed orders for 700 metric tonnes... we are answerable to the citizens of Delhi."
What is the Mumbai Model For Oxygen Supply?
It refers to the way Mumbai was able to manage the oxygen crisis despite being one of the hardest-hit cities since the very beginning of the pandemic. The success of the Mumbai model can be attributed to the centralization of certain aspects and decentralization of the services aspects. Mumbai was preparing from the first COVID-19 wave last year itself. They managed to arrange dura cylinders that deliver enough holding time with a low evaporation rate, high gas withdrawal rate, and best life cycle cost for nursing homes and small hospitals.
"Building the additional LMO tanks helped us cope during the second wave," additional municipal commissioner P Velrasu said. Mumbai's civic body installed over 15 liquid medical oxygen tanks with a capacity of 13 kg liters each and 11 smaller tanks with a capacity of 6 kg liters in the city civic-run hospitals and COVID-19 centers, in the span of 40 days between May 2020 and June 2020. This played a crucial role when the demand for medical oxygen increase from 200 metric tonnes to 270 metric tonnes in a month alone during the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic in India
When the city’s caseload was at its highest in April 2021, and the oxygen crisis was felt the strongest, the BMC announced that six civic officials would be appointed to act as coordinators between Assistant municipal commissioners of 24 civic wards, oxygen suppliers, and the Food and Drug Administration. They were responsible for maintaining the oxygen supply and ensuring that oxygen was used moderately. The officers are responsible for ensuring that oxygen is available in a timely manner and, most importantly, in 64 nursing homes. These coordinating officers will be in charge of four divisions each in each of Mumbai's 24 administrative divisions.
The city’s model for oxygen supply was changed to ensure that oxygen cylinders were being transported safely and efficiently. According to Krishna H Perekar, BMC's chief engineer, “Ward-level teams were created to organize and transfer surplus oxygen from one site to another where there was a shortfall” (Mechanical and Electrical). Hospitals were also given the instruction of informing BMC at least three hours prior to the exhaustion of their oxygen supply.
Resource inventory was done on the oxygen usage and facilities in hospitals, both private and public, across greater Mumbai. Resource inventory is done in order to find out the current conditions and existing resources in the area in question. This proved to be extremely valuable. Areas like Navi Mumbai and Thane which are part of the Mumbai Metropolitan region are also experiencing severe shortages and therefore Mumbai and oxygen were often transported to the suburbs.
The civic body officials now plan on constructing oxygen plans for generation at every hospital so that dependency on LMO and cylinders to a large extent. Each of the plants which would be established would produce approximately 43 metric tonnes of oxygen.
The Centre suggested the use of the Mumbai Model For Oxygen Supply for Delhi because it has worked extremely well in Mumbai. This includes the building of LMO tanks, arrangement of dura cylinders, the appointment of officials to act as coordinators, and various other things that Mumbai has applied in their model, wherever possible. If Delhi continues to increase its demand for oxygen and the court allows it and increases the supply consecutively, it would result in a reduction in the allocation of oxygen to other states which might require it as well.
Supreme Court Lauds Mumbai Model For Oxygen Supply
The SC has asked the Centre and Delhi government to strive to put up as many oxygen plants as possible. The Maharashtra government was able to put up 13 new oxygen plants in a span of 40 days. The SC bench, headed by Justice Chandrachud, has asked the Centre to present the model that they would be following to provide 700 metric tons of oxygen to Delhi. If New Delhi is able to come up with a good model or follow the path of the Mumbai civic body's model it might be extremely effective and save hundreds of lives every day.