India Gets Special Task Force For Fair Oxygen Allocation Under Supreme Court Ruling
The second Covid-19 wave has gripped the country to such proportions that it the Supreme court has now pushed for the formation of a twelve-member special task force.
The new national level task force (NFT) is going to be scrutinizing the situation of theft and black-marketing of oxygen allocation. Since its formation, the entire member delegation has already met once.
The court has specified that the premise to form the task force is to ensure the right services are reaching civilians. The task force is also going to facilitate a public health response to the pandemic based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge. The tenure of the task force is going to be for a period of six months and would ensure distribution of oxygen across the union territories and states of India.
The team comprises top medical experts, and would evolve on a need-to-need basis. Presiding over the decision was Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah. A two hour long presentation has already been made by Dr VK Paul in which various aspects of oxygen supply and availability of the drugs has been spelt out by this task force. However, strangely, Dr. V.K. Paul and Dr. Balram Bhargava are simply invitees and not members of this particular national task force.
This panel, it is confirmed can invite experts in the discussion.
Currently the NTF members include Bhabatosh Biswas, former Vice Chancellor, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata; Devender Singh Rana, Chairperson, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi; Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairperson and Executive Director, Narayana Healthcare, Bengaluru; Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu; and JV Peter, Director, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.
Additionally, the panel also has Naresh Trehan, Chairperson and Managing Director, Medanta Hospital and Heart Institute, Gurugram; Rahul Pandit, Director, Critical Care Medicine and ICU, Fortis Hospital, Mulund (Mumbai, Maharashtra) and Kalyan (Maharashtra); and Dr Saumitra Rawat, Chairman & Head, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi; Shiv Kumar Sarin of Institute of Liver and Biliary Science (ILBS), Delhi; and Zarir F Udwadia of Hinduja Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital Mumbai.
A sub group has also put in place. This comprises Randeep Guleria (AIIMS), Sandeep Budhiraja (Max Healthcare) and two IAS officers not below the rank of Joint Secretary—one each from the Centre and Delhi government. Their main task will be to carry out the audit exercise for Delhi’s health infrastructure and allocation of oxygen.
According to the presiding judges, the Union Cabinet Secretary will act as the NTF convener and the Union Health Secretary its ex-officio member.
The Cabinet Secretary may nominate an officer not below the rank of Additional Secretary to deputize for him, when necessary, the court ruling has said. A 12-point term of reference has also been put down by the court, which includes assessing and making recommendations for the entire country based on the need for, availability, and distribution of medical oxygen and to facilitate auditing by sub-groups within each state and union territory.