New Delhi, April 21 : Amid oxygen crisis in the capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday questioned the Centre why it was not waking up to reality and directed it to immediately provide oxygen to the hospitals in the city.

During the hearing of a plea by a hospital group, which had flagged oxygen crisis in two of its hospitals this afternoon, a bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said: "Why Centre is not waking up to the gravity of the situation? We are shocked and dismayed hospitals are running out of oxygen but steel plants are running." The bench said the Centre should find means for transporting oxygen to hospitals, either by creating dedicated corridors or airlifting it from the production facility.

"How is the government so oblivious to the reality on ground? You can't have people die because there is no oxygen," it said.

The bench noted that heavens will not fall if the industries, including steel and petroleum, run on lower capacity till oxygen is imported.

Citing its Tuesday order on the issue of supply of oxygen to the hospitals, the bench added: "This is really ridiculous. You are concerned with the industries... That means human lives doesn't matter for the government." The bench observed that industries like steel and petrochemical are oxygen guzzlers and diverting oxygen from them can meet hospitals' demand. "If Tatas can divert oxygen, they are generating for their steel plants to medical use, why can't others?" "This is height of greed and is there sense of humanity left or not?" it asked.

As counsel for the Union Health Ministry submitted files have started moving, the court retorted: "What is the outcome? We aren't bothered about these files." It emphasised that there is no dearth of resources with the Centre.

The plea was filed by Balaji Medical and Research Centre, which owns and runs various hospitals in the name of Max. The hospital group had submitted that if oxygen demand is not met on immediate basis, then it will impact lives of critical patients.

The High Court said: "We are constrained to direct the Centre to forthwith implement this order and take over supply of oxygen from steel plants and if necessary, also from the petroleum plants, to supply it to hospitals."

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