A view of the Bombay High Court in Mumbai. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Panaji, May 12 : The Bombay High Court's Panaji bench on Wednesday said that oxygen paucity in the state's apex health facility was grim and directed top government officials that no death should occur at least on Wednesday night due to lack of oxygen.

The court, which is hearing a bunch of petitions which have alleged mismanagement in the state government efforts to tackle the pandemic, also said that its primary responsibility was to save lives at the moment.

"According to us, the situation about the supply of oxygen at the Goa Medical College is quite grim. We have long passed the stage of determining whether patients are suffering from the lack of oxygen or not. The material placed before us establishes that patients are indeed suffering and even in some cases, succumbing for want of the supply of oxygen, in the state of Goa," a division bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and Mahesh Sonak said.

The court is expected to hear the matter again on Thursday.

"We post the matter for tomorrow with the fond hope that at least tonight, and even hereafter, with the joint efforts of the Dean and the state administration of which he is a part, there are no casualties at the Goa Medical College for want of oxygen," the court also said.

Briefing reporters after the hearing, advocate Nikhil Pai, who represented the South Goa Advocates Association, one of the petitioners, said: "A solution is being worked out. The HC was concerned as to how lives can be saved even today. They wanted an assurance (from the government) that not a single death should occur due to lack of oxygen tonight." As many as 26 patients died in the Covid ward of the Goa Medical College on Tuesday night due to unavailability of oxygen, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane had said. However, the claim was rejected by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who insisted that the deaths occurred due to mismanagement at the hospital.

At Wednesday's hearing during which top government and Health Department officials were present virtually, the HC said that its primary motive was to ensure that oxygen supply was maintained at the top health facility and not fix responsibility for the mismanagement for now.

"The matter has been kept for tomorrow to see what further can be done to address the oxygen crunch," Pai said.

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