A bench comprising of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said the state government should learn from the bitter experience of the people amid the ongoing second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, submitted before the bench that completion of the hospital was not a pressing issue and cited that around 4,500 beds were currently available in the national capital. The bench pointed out that if the Delhi government were to take up hospital completion as a pressing issue, then the facility would have been completely functional now. The court was also informed that there was no piped oxygen, ICU beds or ventilators available at the hospital.
"If a third wave comes, as many experts are warning it might. and your facility is not up and running (to full capacity)", said the bench, adding "again we would be back to this situation." The court noted that due to the lethargy of the state the health care project has not been completed.
Mehra argued that in the backdrop of availability of such a large number of beds, there exists no "grave urgency" to completely operationalise the hospital. The bench took note of the Delhi government contention that situation in connection with the availability of beds may have improved. However, the court said it cannot overlook the grim situation which existed just couple of days ago when serious COVID-19 patients were desperately searching for medical oxygen, ICU beds, ventilators and medicines. The bench further added that the patients were finding it extremely difficult to get admission in hospitals, and also many patients died without receiving proper treatment.
The bench noted that there is no reason why the state government should not complete the project and in the backdrop of prediction of third wave, the government should use its resources to the hilt to complete ongoing health care projects.
The bench cautioned that Delhi government that there may come a situation where it could run out of hospital beds and face extreme stress on medical infrastructure.
Mehra contended that there isn't any lethargy from the state government, and blamed the Centre for not allocating beds for the national capital as it had promised.
The High Court directed the state government to file an affidavit, detailing on time lines that were initially set for completion of the hospital. The court also asked the government to come up with realistic time frame to complete the project. The court has scheduled the matter for further hearing on May 24.
The High Court made sharp observations after it was told only 80 beds were operational in the Indira Gandhi Hospital.
he High Court on Tuesday had expressed displeasure with the Delhi government for making an incorrect statement on May 10 that 250 beds in Indira Gandhi Hospital, COVID facility in Dwarka, were already operational. Later, the government informed the court that 150 beds would be made operational during the day and additional 100 would be operational on Wednesday.