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Row as Centre moves SC against Karnataka HC order on oxygen supply order
The Centre on Thursday approached the Supreme Court against the May 5 Karnataka High Court's order enhancing the state's medical oxygen allocation to 1,200 tonnes, even as Covid-19 patients in the state face a severe shortage of the life-saving gas.
This took a political turn with the Congress chiding the BJP, which is in power in both Karnataka and the Centre.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the matter before a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah seeking urgent stay on the High Court order. The matter has been fixed for hearing on Friday.
Karnataka's allocation has been enhanced to 962 tonnes against the state's requirement of 1,471 tonnes that might go up to 1,792 tonnes.
The Centre argued that the High Court's order would have a "cascading effect resulting in total collapse of the system" during the raging pandemic. It sought the High Court order to be set aside as it would "ultimately lead to mismanagement of resources and create a further chaotic environment in an already overburdened system".
The High Court failed to consider the rationale behind oxygen allocation and that limited resources have to be put to judicious use given the overall situation, the Centre contended.
This "transcended the boundaries of the particular state", the Centre said, "especially issues wherein one or more states would be competing for the limited resources during the time of the pandemic." The Centre said the high court "erred" because oxygen supply "essentially requires a comprehensive national approach".
Former Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah said he was 'shocked' the Centre moved the top court. He said: 'Will the CM and BJP ever fight this decision? Is Narendra Modi blind to Karnataka's needs? Karnataka has elected 25 BJP MPs to Lok Sabha. Where are they hiding? Have they lost their spine to stand up against Modi?'
However, Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar, in charge of oxygen supply, said things would get better. "Our minimum requirement is 1,200 tonnes. We hope our current allocation of 965 tonnes will be increased by an additional 150 tonnes. So, we will get around 1,115 tonnes. We will be in a comfortable position in the next two-three days," he told DH. He added that 60 tonnes supplied to Maharashtra from the Ballari Jindal plant was allocated to Karnataka "because of our petitions".
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda defended the Centre thus: "Karnataka's allocation was increased to 965 tonnes as cases increased. Allocation is being done on the basis of active cases."