It is now official. The Jammu and Kashmir Administration has admitted the authenticity of the widespread complaints about oxygen deficiency in Jammu hospitals while so far had been in denial mode. It only created confusion with Government Medical College here issuing statements with regard to availability of beds with and without oxygen facilities. It also claimed that there was no need to panic. Had it been so the team of senior government officers, constituted to oversee and monitor COVID management, would not have been constrained to send a terse and forceful message to private medical oxygen stations to respond with utmost commitment to the challenge posed by pandemic and redouble their efforts to maintain critical oxygen supply for hospitals in the Jammu division. Here is another admission that the deficiency of oxygen is only in Jammu and not in the Valley. The team has, therefore, cautioned the plant owners against any laxity in the supply of oxygen cylinders to hospitals and said any dereliction in this regard would invite action under relevant provisions of law. Sensing the public anger, the administration has decided to constitute interdepartmental inspection teams for daily checks on the quality parameters of the medical oxygen supply. Mere threatening posture would not bail out the administration from its failure in maintaining life saving supplies to hospitals. Shifting the onus to private filling stations would not absolve the health services from their bounden role to be fully geared up for meeting the situation, which is taking alarming propositions in the wake of ever increasing number of cases, especially in the Jammu division. It is heartening that no such complaints are pouring in from the Valley which speaks of the advance arrangements having been put in place to fight pandemic. If there would have been a shortage in Kashmir, the government had not only to answer the people but to the premier human rights organsiations and social activists in the country and around the globe. Jammu health managers will have to explain why they have been taken off-guard in maintaining the supplies. They will have to account for the failure if not the deaths that could have been averted to occur. The emergent measures now underway mean nothing for the people, who have lost faith in the system that has let them down at a time when they needed the care and compassion most.
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