Emergency Covid-19 relief is flooding Delhi airport – but where is it going next?

Prior to now 5 days, 25 flights loaded with 300 tonnes of emergency Covid-19 reduction provides have landed in India’s capital from world wide. The provides embody 5,500 oxygen concentrators, 3,200 oxygen cylinders and 1,36,000 remdesivir injections, mentioned a spokesperson of the Delhi Worldwide Airport Restricted.

The emergency support may save lives. Nevertheless it appears to not have reached even those that are gasping for oxygen just a few km away.

“So far as I do know, we now have not obtained something to this point,” mentioned Dr Nutan Mundeja, Director Basic of Well being Providers, Delhi authorities.

Delhi, which has practically 100,000 lively Covid-19 circumstances and 20,000 sufferers in hospital, is going through a crippling scarcity of oxygen. On Could 1, 12 sufferers, together with a health care provider, died in Batra Hospital after it ran out of the life-saving fuel.

By April 30, Delhi Airport had obtained 500 oxygen concentrators from the United Kingdom, 700 from Ireland. On Could 2, one other 1,000 oxygen cylinders arrived from the United States and 150 oxygen concentrators from Uzbekistan.

But, hospitals and households proceed to make determined appeals for oxygen on social media, whereas the standing of the emergency provides stays unclear, barring oxygen era models despatched by France which have been earmarked for eight hospitals, six of them in Delhi.

States at midnight

Not simply Delhi, the emergency reduction provides appear to not have been dispatched to different states in India.

“There isn’t any document of Covid associated medical support being despatched to home locations,” mentioned the spokesperson of Delhi Airport round midday on Monday.

The Ministry of Exterior Affairs informed The Hindu that an Empowered Group of Ministers and officers was fielding requests from state governments. However officers in six states informed Scroll.in that they haven’t heard from the Centre about whether or not they are going to be receiving any share within the emergency provides.

“We actually want these provides, however we don’t even know they’ve arrived,” mentioned Kumar Rahul, secretary in Punjab well being division.

Tamil Nadu’s well being division had not heard from the Centre both. “As of now we now have bought no intimation about any state allotment,” mentioned J Radhakrishnan, principal secretary within the state well being division. “We don’t know what has been obtained by Delhi and for whom it has been obtained.”

Bihar, which has seen a surge in the previous few weeks, has additionally not obtained any of the emergency provides. A senior well being official mentioned the state may do properly with some provides of oxygen concentrators and cylinders.

In adjoining Jharkhand, Ravi Kumar Shukla, the state’s nationwide well being mission director, mentioned the state had “no info” of any emergency provides being allotted to it.

West Bengal, which is in “drastic want of each oxygen cylinders and concentrators”, in line with state officers, has not obtained any both. “Neither has there been any details about allocation,” mentioned Ajoy Chakraborty, the state’s director of well being providers.

Odisha’s state well being division mentioned the state wanted extra remdesivir provides. “We haven’t obtained any worldwide support,” mentioned Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, further chief secretary, division of well being and household welfare within the state. “I’ve been in speaking to secretary, [the Union department of] prescription drugs virtually each day about remdesivir.”

Lack of transparency

A lot of the Covid-19 help arriving on the Delhi Airport is being handed over to the Indian authorities by means of the Indian Crimson Cross Society, a non-profit organisation with shut hyperlinks with the federal government.

“Consignments that come from overseas are usually handed over to Indian Crimson Cross Society,” mentioned the airport spokesperson. “It’s they who distribute as per GOI [Government of India] directive.”

4 shipments despatched by america have landed at Delhi airport between Friday morning and Sunday night time. “As every US cargo arrives, USAID is transferring possession of offered supplies upon their arrival to the Authorities of India by means of the Indian Crimson Cross organisation,” mentioned a spokesperson of the US embassy in New Delhi. “We refer you to the Authorities of India for details about the deployment and use of those supplies subsequent to their switch.”

RK Jain, the secretary common of the Indian Crimson Cross, mentioned its function was confined to getting the consignments cleared by means of customs and handing them over to HLL Lifecare Restricted, a central authorities firm which he mentioned was dealing with storage and logistics. “The allocation is finished by the [health] ministry,” he mentioned.

Jain didn’t reply to particular queries in regards to the standing of shipments that had arrived.

One other official of the Indian Crimson Cross, who spoke on the situation of anonymity, mentioned the reduction materials was being saved in HLL Lifecare Restricted’s warehouses within the airport’s cargo part. The official mentioned among the supplies had been “below transit”, however refused to offer out extra particulars. “You need to contact the HLL and the ministry,” the official mentioned.

HLL Lifecare Restricted’s chairperson Beji George additionally refused to subject queries. Requested if any supplies have been dispatched in any respect, George mentioned: “It’s coming and going. You could test with the ministry of well being.”

Questions emailed to Mandeep Bhandari, the joint secretary within the well being ministry who oversees the HLL Lifecare Restricted’s operations, went unanswered. He didn’t reply to cellphone calls.

An individual who works within the humanitarian support sector, who didn’t wish to be recognized, mentioned the Indian Crimson Cross Society didn’t have enough personnel to deal with reduction operations on this scale. One other drawback, he mentioned, was that the customs clearance course of was taking lengthy, for the reason that authorities had been insisting on a declaration of the worth of every cargo, despite the fact that the federal government had waived duties. “That is support despatched by different governments,” he mentioned. “It needs to be cleared in a single go.”

Even oxygen concentrators bought by a non-public hospital in Delhi had been mendacity stacked up on the Delhi Airport, its lawyer informed the Delhi Excessive Courtroom on Monday. The courtroom requested the Centre to furnish particulars in regards to the variety of concentrators pending customs clearance on the airport.

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