As Delhi grapples with an acute shortage of oxygen, the Centre and the Kejriwal government are at loggerheads with each other regarding the setting up of eight oxygen plants, which had been sanctioned under the PM-CARES Fund (Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund) last year.
Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut took to social media to share a graphic, questioning where were the funds “allocated” by the Centre to state governments to put up oxygen plants. It notes that only one oxygen plant has been set up in Delhi and Maharashtra, each.
However, the claim that the Centre had ‘given’ money to the states for setting up the oxygen plants is misleading.
The tender document in the public domain shows that the Central Medical Supply Store (CMSS) – an autonomous body of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare – had floated the tender for 150 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants in October 2020. Out of this, eight were to be set up in Delhi and 10 in Maharashtra.
Ranaut shared the graphic, questioning where the ‘PM CARES' money had gone and why the chief ministers had only set up one oxygen plant so far.
Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also tweeted that PM Sri @narendramodi gave Delhi funds for eight plants through #PMCARES in Dec 2020. Why blame Modi, when your govt has failed and could instal just one out of 8! (sic)"
Facebook page, 'The Right Angle' also shared the graphic, garnering over 2,400 likes and 2,200 shares at the time of writing this article.
CENTRE INVITED TENDERS FOR OXYGEN PLANTS, NOT STATE
A press release by the Central government, dated 5 January states that the PM CARES Fund Trust had allocated Rs 201.58 crore for installation of 162 dedicated PSA Medical Oxygen Generation Plants in public health facilities across the country.
The initial tender document, as stated above, was floated for 150 plants, but the document mentioned that CMSS “will have the right to increase or decrease up to 25% of the quantity of goods and/or services specified in the schedule of requirements without any change in the unit price or other terms and conditions at any time of agreement period”.
According to the state and UT-wise break-up, Delhi was to get eight plants and Maharashtra would get 10. This was decided based on the state’s requirement. The government hospitals where these plants are to be set up were also "identified in consultation with the States/UTs concerned".
The press release also notes that the procurement of the plants will be done by CMSS, an autonomous body under the Centre’s health ministry.
The tender for 150 PSA Oxygen Plants was floated on 20 October 2020 – nearly eight months after the Modi government had imposed the first lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The document states that the tender inviting and accepting authority is CMSS.
Further it mentions that the "State/hospital will be responsible for completion of the civil, electrical works before the last date of supply and for the supplied equipment".
DELAYS IN INSTALLATION OF OXYGEN PLANTS
On 18 April, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare tweeted that out of the 162 sanctioned PSA oxygen plants, only 33 had come up in the country, with one each in Delhi and Maharashtra.
According to the Ministry's tweet, the delay was not just in Maharashtra and Delhi, but also in states like Uttar Pradesh where only one out of the sanctioned 14 plants was installed.
It further stated, that by end of May 2021, 80 plants will be installed.
An investigation by news outlet, Scroll.in reveals that while the tender had received applications, the contracted companies and hospitals have blamed each other for delays.
Most hospitals contacted by Scroll.in insisted that they have the infrastructure needed for installation ready. However, companies like Aurangabad-based Airox Technologies claimed that while procedures had been completed at their end, hospitals “were yet to provide the infrastructure needed to connect the generation units to the beds”.
CENTRE, DELHI BLAME EACH OTHER
A High Court order, dated 20 April, had directed the Delhi government to ensure that the hospitals, "who have not acted in response to the said scheme of the Central Government," to act immediately.
This was based on the Centre’s submission that two of the hospitals where the plants were to be set up – Satyawadi Raja Harish Chandra Hospital and Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College & Safdarjung Hospital – had not yet provided the site clearance.
"Two of the hospitals have now provided the site clearance and the equipment would be installed by 30.04.2021," the order further stated.
However, the Delhi government has refuted these claims.
A report by The Indian Express notes that according to the "latest records available with the Delhi government health department, site readiness certificates from five hospitals had already been provided earlier while that of two was sent on Monday and Thursday, respectively."
In a statement to news agency ANI, Delhi government stated that “the plants were to be set up by Union Health Ministry through PM CARES fund, and not a single rupee was given to state governments”.
The government further added that the plants were supposed to be installed by December 2020 and "handed over to state governments".
The statement also alleges that a single vendor was given the contract for 140 plants, however, he “ran away” and the vendor responsible for setting up plants in Delhi’s hospitals was “non-responsive”.
"The fact that the PSA plant has not been made operational at even Centre's own Safdarjung hospital shows that Centre is caught in the web of its own lies," it added.
On Saturday, 24 April, the Delhi High Court directed the state government to set up its own oxygen plants to ensure supply to hospitals.
(The story has been published as a part of Ekta Consortium – a collaboration of six fact-checking organisations in India.)