“Industries can wait, need for oxygen in hospitals is now and any delay will lead to loss of precious lives. We, therefore, direct the central government to implement decisions to bar industries from using oxygen forthwith. We see no justification for implementing the order from 22nd of April,” a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli noted in an order passed after a marathon hearing of over three hours. The court underlined that economic interests could not override human lives and advised the government to consider reducing production in steel and petroleum production to divert oxygen to hospitals.
“Shortage is now. You have to ban now. Look into taking some oxygen from steel and petroleum industries. They have big pockets and big lobbies, but tell them if they have to cut production, then they can cut production. Lives have to be saved,” the bench said wondering why the Centre is waiting till April 22 to ban industrial use of oxygen.
“Can we ask patients needing oxygen to hold on till April 22?” the high court remarked, adding that if nothing was done, then “we are heading for a bigger disaster as we might end up losing nearly a crore of people. Are we willing to accept that?”
During the hearing, the court also asked the Centre to ensure allocation or diversion of resources and medicines, such as Remdesivir, is based on the needs and situation of each state, cautioning that otherwise “people will have blood on their hands”.