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Covid: High Court puts Punjab, Chandigarh on notice over ‘grim’ situation

Taking cognisance of the “grim” situation in the region following surge in Covid cases — including the non-availability of beds in the hospitals and “depleted” oxygen supply, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today put the state of Punjab and Chandigarh on notice after impleading the two as party-respondents in an ongoing petition on the pandemic management. The newly added respondents were given two days’ time to address the Bench on the issues after seeking instructions. The state of Haryana also undertook to file a status report on the requirement and supply of oxygen to the hospitals.

As the case came up for resumed hearing before the Bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh, senior advocate and amicus curiae Rupinder Khosla contended there was a complete chaos due to the situation arising out of Covid-19 spread and the government guidelines were not being followed in the region. Beds were not available to those seeking admission to the hospitals and the supply of oxygen was “severely depleted”.

Praying for impleading Chandigarh and Punjab as parties as the conditions were “equally grim” in the two states and the UT, he further submitted that the situation demanded the Court’s immediate attention.

He also brought to the Court’s notice the “casual attitude of the general public even at a stage when spread of Covid-19 was reaching its peak”. The Bench was told that the public places were crowded and the government guidelines were not being followed. “The situation, to say the least, is alarming,” he added.

Haryana Additional Advocate-General Ankur Mittal submitted appropriate steps were being taken, as submitted in an affidavit filed by Haryana Home Department Secretary Pankaj Yadav. At the same time, he did not dispute that something more was required to be done to bring the situation under control.

He added that a state-level monitoring committee headed by the Haryana Health Minister had already been constituted to look into various issues, particularly timely supply of oxygen to the hospitals.

He added daily requirement of oxygen, as on date, was 70/80 MT, while the production in the Haryana was 270 MT. The directions came on a petition filed against Haryana and other respondents.

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