New Delhi 30th April 2021: The second wave of coronavirus has hit the country severely. It has crumbled the health care system of India. Delhi, the capital state of India and probably having one of country’s best health care system is suffering from acute shortage of medical oxygen. The death of twenty five patients for not getting enough oxygen supply in Delhi’s Gangaram Hospital tells us how Delhi is in need of medical oxygen. The long queues in oxygen refilling centres tell us how shortage of oxygen Delhi facing is. It is saddening to see that people have to wait in queue for hours for the thing they need most to save their near and dear ones
In this tough time people has started helping themselves. Social media platforms are full with posts of people asking for hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, essential drugs etc. While there are posts of the people requesting beds, oxygen cylinders etc. there are also the people helping out by putting the address of oxygen refilling centres, empty beds and availability of certain drugs. In one such posts we saw an oxygen refilling shop at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh.
Shaheen Bagh, the epicenter of Anti-CAA protest. The Shaheen Bagh which the Godi Media refers as “mini-Pakistan” for its participation in Anti-CAA protest. The protest which began on 15 December, 2019 orchestrated mainly by Muslim women is often seen as resistance against Hindutva government which has passed an act granting citizenship to Hindu, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains Buddhists and Christians but excluding Muslims. Following the protest, an anti-Muslim pogrom was carried out causing death of 53 people of which two-thirds were Muslims. Mosques were vandalised and saffron flags hoisted. The Muslims were marked as targets and properties owned by them were set ablaze by the rioters.
Coming to Shaheen Bagh’s oxygen refilling shop -Waseem Gases which is originally an AC repair shop is supplying medical oxygen to the long queues of people irrespective of their religion. At a time, when Delhi is facing acute shortage of oxygen, this shop is a ray of hope for many Delhiities to save their loved ones. Waseem Malik told ThePrint that he and his brother own three AC repair shops in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and during summer, they store oxygen and nitrogen in one of their shops- Waseem Gases because it is needed by the technicians to repair and service ACs. They are getting the supply of gases from Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area in Badarpur for years now. Waseem also said that they have helped patients in the neighborhood with medical oxygen last year too when the pandemic first hit the country but he has not seen demand like this time. This year people are coming in thousands but unfortunately he does not have enough supplies to meet the demand. The demand escalated especially after a couple of boys from the neighborhood posted the shop’s photo on Twitter last week.
Waseem charges Rs 100-130 for refilling which is also far less than what hospitals are demanding. Sometimes, he does not even charge to those who are unable to pay. Waseem said that he and his brother are working overtime to meet the demand but are unable to do so. The hardest thing he has to do is turn away those arriving at his shop. A year ago Delhi which was divided into religions has found itself together in this hour of crisis.
Delhi is facing acute shortage of medical oxygen. The situation is so worse that Delhi High Court threatened Aam Aadmi Party’s government that it will ask the central government to take over gas re filler units if the state is unable to handle the situation.