To check shortage, Centre says no curbs on movement of oxygen cylinders

There were some issues with regard to the shortage, but we are sorting them out, says Home Secy

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the oxygen supply had been constrained because of the sudden rise in the number of cases.

Even as Prime Minister Modi held a meeting over the supply of medical oxygen, the government said on Thursday (April 22) said there will be no restriction on the movement of the oxygen cylinders and that supply can’t be limited to any state.

“No restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to hospitals of the state or Union Territory in which they are located,” the order read. “Supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted by the government, is prohibited with effect from April 22 and till further orders,” it said.

The Delhi government recently complained about Uttar Pradesh and Haryana stopping their supply of oxygen at a time when the national capital faced an unprecedented rush of COVID patients which led to depletion of stocks.

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The country on April 22 reported 3,14,835 new infections — the world’s highest daily figure — and a record 2,104 deaths in 24 hours. The huge surge has led to shortage of hospital beds, medicines and oxygen affecting the treatment of seriously ill patients. The need for oxygen has increased to 1.1 million cylinders in low to middle-income countries alone, according to the World Health Organization.

On Tuesday (April 20) night some hospitals in Delhi almost ran out of oxygen supply, prompting the state government to raise an SOS with the Centre. Delhi doesn’t have manufacturing of its own and has to depend on Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

“There were some issues with regard to the shortage, but we are sorting it out. During the day, some plants see some problems, but we are on it,” said Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla. “Whatever allotment has been made to states should be allowed to go.”

All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association head Saket Tiku told media that home secretary had to intervene in several cases as authorities in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were among those disallowing free inter-state movement of oxygen.

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