In the past few days, you often see the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sending SOS tweets to PM Narendra Modi and the Central Government amidst the COVID-19 spike. Ironically, he hardly discusses and updates the public on arrangements made by his government to respond to the evolving situation. There is no doubt that the health infrastructure is facing increased burden in the recent past. But it is only obvious to expect an elected Chief Minister to take cogent steps to alleviate the situation.
While there seems to be no such inclination or indication from Delhi Chief Minister, the Centre has yet again stepped in and swiftly provided reprieve amidst the raging infection.
Centre’s Intervention at Delhi Hospitals
As on April 20, 2021, 2,105 beds have been added to Central Government hospitals in Delhi. This capacity has been built at Safdarjung, RML, LHMC, AIIMS Delhi, AIIMS Jhajjhar, ESIC Okhla and Jhilmil, and All India institute of Ayurveda, Sarita Vihar which are available now for care of COVID patients of Delhi.
Among these 2,105 additional beds, there are 1,875 oxygen beds and 230 ICU beds.
To put the significance of additional capacity in perspective, there were 510 beds were available across these facilities as on March 1, 2021. It This is now almost 4 times higher within a brief time.
In addition, at the DRDO facility in Dhaula Kuan, 250 ICU beds were made operational on April 19, 2021, and another 250 ICU beds are being made operational.
Indian Railways has also committed to provide 50 coaches with 16 beds each at the Shakur Basti station, amounting to 800 beds, which can be used for isolation by the Delhi Government. Further, the Indian Railways will also provide 25 Coaches with 16 beds each, amounting to 400 beds at its Anand Vihar facility.
DRDO sets up a COVID facility in Delhi having all oxygen beds and 'large' number of ventilators among others. pic.twitter.com/BKKaNg3yj7
— ANI (@ANI) April 17, 2021
Govt under PM @NarendraModi leading the fight against COVID-19: 50 COVID-19 isolation coaches with 800 beds ready at Shakur Basti Station & 25 coaches will be available at Anand Vihar Station in Delhi. Railways can setup >3 lakh isolation beds across the country on States' demand pic.twitter.com/b9ehFnEgfI
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) April 18, 2021
Oxygen Supply – The Centre Intervened to Streamline
There is no denying of the fact that many states are grappling with medical Oxygen supply as the cases have surged.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers taken to social media to send SOS communication to the Centre. The Delhi CM yesterday acknowledged that the Centre has taken steps to increase the Oxygen supply. Reports say that the Centre intervened to convince Haryana to facilitate Oxygen supply to Delhi.
Now, as the Centre once again steps in to save Delhi from facing the worst, it is worth asking why did the Delhi Government end up creating a situation where its only option was to send SOS communication to the Centre? Is it not the responsibility of State Governments to secure medical Oxygen supply beforehand by entering into agreements with private players? How and why did the Delhi Government choose to overlook signs that suggested that may face this kind of crisis?
A report from The Times of India dated November 2020 gives an answer to such questions.
The report had highlighted many concerns even back then.
- Delhi does not have a single unit for Oxygen production and all of its supply comes from other states.
- Many hospitals in Delhi don’t have reserve capacity for medical Oxygen.
- Farmers protest at Singhu border is delaying the movement of trucks which is subsequently delaying movement and supply of medical oxygen.
When you look for reasons to explain the present medical Oxygen crisis in Delhi, the shortcomings have remained unaddressed by the Delhi government – same Government which claims that it spearheaded a health revolution through Mohalla clinic etc. has not acted to secure Delhi from the COVID-19 future shocks.
The present crisis in Delhi perspective can be seen as the third wave of COVID-19 infections in the city. In each instance of crisis, the Centre has had to rush to rein in the situation.
Between steps to save Delhi and tweet SOS to the Centre, CM Kejriwal’s preferred mode of Governance is for all to see.
You can read about earlier two crises through following links.