Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday issued his second SOS in as many days, as Delhi battles a crippling oxygen shortage triggered by a devastating wave of Covid infections. The Chief Minister – who has also urged the centre to help – appealed to industrialists to “please do whatever you can to support us”.
The letter has reportedly been sent to the Tatas, the Birlas, the Ambanis, the Hindujas and the Mahendras, apart from a number of other prominent business families, all of whom have been asked for help in increasing the supply of medical oxygen to the national capital.
“If you have oxygen and a tanker, then please help the Delhi government,” he wrote.
The Tatas have already said they will import 24 cryogenic containers to help transport oxygen from production sites to hospitals. Consumer giant ITC Ltd. made a similar promise on Saturday.
On Saturday Mr Kejriwal sent a similar letter to his counterparts from across the country.
“I am writing to all CMs requesting them to provide oxygen to Delhi, if they have spare. The centre is also helping, but the severity is such that available resources are proving inadequate,” he said.
Delhi has been hit by an avalanche of Covid cases over the past 40-odd days, with daily new cases jumping from below 500 in late-March to nearly 30,000 this week.
The number of Covid-linked deaths reported per day has also increased dramatically – from below 10 in late-March to over 300 in each of the past three days.
Delhi’s positivity rate – the percentage of tests returning positive results – is now nearly 40 per cent.
The increase has hit the city hard, with beds, medicines and oxygen, particularly, at a premium.
Over the past week hospitals have flagged depleting oxygen levels on an hourly basis and several have appealed to the Delhi High Court for help with hundreds, even thousands, of lives on the line.
The Delhi government has also approached the courts, asking for oxygen supplies to be increased and even granted police protection, as neighbouring states squabble over the precious gas.
On Wednesday the centre said it would increase its supply to Delhi – from 378 metric tonnes per day to 480. But that is still far short of the 700 MT per day the city needs.
The centre has since also said oxygen manufacturing units will be set up in every district, but this is not the desperately-needed short-term solution to the crisis.
Delhi last week imposed a lockdown to try and break the virus’ chain of transmission. That lockdown was extended today; Mr Kejriwal said the coronavirus “continues to wreak havoc in the city“.
Like the national capital, other parts of India are also struggling to cope with a wave of Covid infections. This morning nearly 3.5 lakh new cases were reported for the second successive 24-hour period.