In the wake of the second Covid-19 wave, the Supreme Court 8 May 2021 set up a 12-member National Task Force to formulate a methodology for the scientific allocation of medical oxygen to the states and Union Territories (UTs) amid an unprecedented shortage in oxygen supply across various hospitals in the country. The National Task Force has been set up following the consent of the Central government.

What

  1. The task force will commence its work immediately, taking up the pressing issue of determining the modalities for oxygen expeditiously within a week. The tenure of the task force has been set for six months initially.
  2. The task force will assess and make recommendations for the entire country based on need for, availability and distribution of Medical Oxygen, as well as formulate and devise a methodology for the allocation of oxygen to states and union territories on a scientific, rational and equitable basis.
  3. The panel will also make recommendations on augmenting the available supplies of oxygen based on present and projected demands during the pandemic.
  4. It will also make recommendations on periodical review and revision of allocations based on the stage and impact of pandemic.
  5. The SC bench said the purpose of conducting audits was to ensure a measure of accountability for the proper distribution of oxygen supplies made available by the Union government to the states.
  6. The apex court also made it clear that the central government shall continue with the present practice of making allocations of oxygen until the task force has submitted its recommendations.
  7. Earlier, during a hearing on supply of medical oxygen to the national capital, the Centre had urged the Supreme Court to order an audit of the oxygen requirements of various states.