Amid the oxygen crisis across the country, the Supreme Court of India set up a 12-member National Task Force (NTF) to facilitate on Saturday, May 8, to aid public health response to COVID-19.
The task force is also expected to streamline oxygen distribution in India, based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge, reported The Hindu.
A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said, "A consensus has emerged that there is a need to ensure that the allotments of medical oxygen to the states and UTs are made on a scientific, rational and equitable basis. At the same time, it must allow for flexibility to meet unforeseen demands due to emergencies which may arise within the allocated territories."
The top court also emphasised that it was necessary that a transparent and effective mechanism was set up within the government for oxygen allocation purposes to all states and union territories (UTs).
"The union government has agreed to set up a National Task Force to streamline the process. This Task Force would be tsked inter alia with formulating a methodology for the scientific allocation of oxygen to the states and UTs.
The SC bench said the formation of this task force will help decision-makers to have inputs that go beyond finding ad-hoc solutions to the present problems.
"The likely future course of the pandemic must be taken into contemplation at the present time. This will ensure that projected future requirements can be scientifically mapped in the present and maybe modulated in the light of experiences gained," said the bench.
The top court also said in its order that the rationale for constituting the task force at a national level is to aid a public health response to the pandemic based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge.
"We expect that the leading experts in the country shall associate with the work of the task force both as members and resource persons," the top court noted.
The bench added, "The Union government has made its suggestions on the possible names for inclusion in the composition of the task force while leaving its final composition to the court."
The task force shall consist of Dr Bhabatosh Biswas, Former Vice-Chancellor, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata, Dr Devender Singh Rana, Chairperson, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairperson and Executive Director, Narayana Healthcare, Bengaluru, Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, Dr JV Peter, Director, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairperson and Managing Director, Medanta Hospital and Heart Institute, Gurugram, Dr Rahul Pandit, Director, Critical Care Medicine and ICU, Fortis Hospital, Mulund (Mumbai) and Kalyan (Maharashtra) and Dr Saumitra Rawat, Chairman & Head, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi.
Other members of the committee include Dr Shiv Kumar Sarin, Senior Professor and Head of Department of Hepatology, Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Science (ILBS), Delhi, Dr Zarir F Udwadia, Consultant Chest Physician, Hinduja Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital and Parsee General Hospital, Mumbai and a Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (ex officio member).
The cabinet secretary to the union government is the convenor of the national task force and he/she is also a member of the force. The task force can draw upon the human resources of the union government for consultation and information, said the order.
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