SC directs govt to fix oxygen cylinders price

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to fix the oxygen cylinders price and devise a mechanism in this regard.

A three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard the suo moto notice case regarding combating coronavirus and directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to determine the oxygen cylinders price within two days. The court issued the order at the request of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

During the course of proceedings, the Advocate General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) said that oxygen cylinders suppliers were charging exorbitant rates as price had not been fixed.

He said the oxygen cylinders were crucial for the treatment of critically ill coronal patients.

The court also termed the reports unsatisfactory submitted by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Sindh government regarding measures taken to fight coronavirus.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that a large amount of oxygen could be generated through the oxygen plant of Pakistan Steel Mills. He asked the authorities to make oxygen plant functional.

Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman said the oxygen plant at PSM was 40 years old and Rs one billion would be required to make it functional.

The court directed the Additional Attorney General to submit a comprehensive report regarding availability of oxygen for patients.

The chief justice also asked why the government had allowed the import of unregistered drugs and medical equipment.

He asked how the government would know which medicine were being imported.

The counsel for the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) said that a number of medical equipment including ventilators were being manufactured locally. There was no shortage of any medicine used for treatment of coronavirus patients.

The chief justice expressing concern over the conditions of quarantined centres directed the NDMA Chairman to immediately visit the facilities.

The court also directed the Secretary Health to submit a report regarding the measures taken by the government to tackle the pandemic.

The chief justice also expressed annoyance over the absence of Advocate General Sindh.

He said the Sindh government had claimed that it it had spent large amount on Karachi and COVID patients. If the figures were true then Karachi should had become Paris, he added.

He observed that the Sindh government had also claimed that it had spent $ 2600 million on education. With such expenses all schools should become like Harvard and the literary rate should had been 100 percent, he added.

The court sought a clarification on the absence of the AG Sindh and report from the provincial government.

Subsequently, the hearing of the case was adjourned for one month.