The Delhi Police on Friday raided two popular food joints in the city’s iconic Khan Market and recovered over 100 oxygen concentrators, used for treatment of Covid patients, officials said on Friday.
According to the police, 96 oxygen concentrators were recovered from Khan Chacha Restaurant, known for its melt-in-the mouth kebabs, and nine were seized from Town Hall restaurant, which specialises in pan Asian cuisine, in the Khan Market area. These concentrators were being sold in the black market, said police.
Both outlets are linked to Navneet Kalra, the alleged black marketer of oxygen concentrators in Delhi.
In South Delhi alone police have seized 524 oxygen concentrators.
“We will be questioning Mr Kalra soon,” DCP South Atul Thakur told NDTV.
According to him, Mr Kalra and his men used to import concentrators from abroad, mainly from China. “Original price of each concentrator is between Rs 16,000-22,000. But they were selling it anywhere from Rs 50,000-70,000,” he added.
Explaining the modus operandi, the police said they used to take orders online and quote triple the price. Estimates show they have sold these concentrators to 50 people, it said.
“We have recovered WhatsApp chats also in which Mr Kalra is negotiating price with customers,” added an official.
Earlier, Delhi Police on Wednesday arrested four people in the Lodhi Colony area for allegedly indulging in black marketing of oxygen concentrators.
Police are in touch with Customs to probe whether the oxygen concentrators were bought for personal use, as permitted by the Centre, and then sold for commercial purposes.
“It’s part of probe now,” the DCP said.
Earlier last month, the Centre permitted import of oxygen concentrators for personal use till July 31, through post, courier or e-commerce portals under gift category, amid surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air. It is in high demand due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the country. These concentrators capture and filter the air, unlike oxygen cylinders which can only store a fixed amount of oxygen.
The recovery of concentrators comes amid a dire shortage of medical oxygen supply and beds in city hospitals.
This morning, the Supreme Court ordered the central government to supply 700 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi every day till further orders as hospitals in the city continue to weather a steep rise in Covid infections.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court had made it very clear: “You will have to give 700 tonnes to Delhi (700 tonnes dena hi padega)”. The same day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that his administration “won’t let anyone die” of oxygen shortage if it got the earmarked 700 tonnes of daily supply from the centre.
Many other arrests under the Epidemic Act have also been made in other parts of Delhi and police have recovered huge quantities of oximeters, thermometers, oxygen regulators, medicine which are in short supply in the open market.