May 4, 2021 6:03:39 am
In an affidavit before the Gujarat High Court on Monday, the state government has submitted a resolution which was passed by the finance department on May 1 to incentivise procurement “medical oxygen and related accessories, ventilators, vaccine, medicine, etc” from foreign countries through corporates, NGOs and individuals as the state was faced with an “acute shortage”.
Noting that a “large number of corporates, NGOs and individuals are coming forward to help the state government… by way of procuring such material from foreign countries…” in order to “encourage such efforts, it is necessary in the public interest to incentivise procurement” of such items. The incentives include “reimbursing/ giving grant-in-aid the integrated tax leviable under the Customs Tariff Act… already paid by the recipient on such imported material,” and secondly, by way of “upfront payment of applicable integrated tax leviable under the Customs Tariff Act…on such imported material.”
The resolution which shall remain in force up to July 31, adds two other preconditions that such imported material “shall be donated free of cost” to the Gujarat government and hospitals run by it or hospitals run by local authority or any such hospital which the state government has granted permission to receive such goods.
Meanwhile, through an April 27 notification, the state government designated the Food and Drug Control Commissioner HG Koshia as the “competent authority” with respect to regulation of circulation and supply of oxygen from production units. The notification noted “incidents have come to notice of abrupt plant shutdowns” which then require hospitals to make alternate arrangements for medical oxygen supply. The affidavit notes two incidents of shutdowns stretching from 12 to 14 hours at oxygen generation facilities on April 25 and 27.
To meet the oxygen shortage — only 975 MT is allocated to Gujarat as per the Centre’s supply plan against its demand for 1190 MT, the affidavit stated it is finding other alternatives such as “air separation unit (ASU), pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants, conversion of nitrogen PSA plants to oxygen plants, taking support of NGOs in the form of oxygen concentrators etc, CSR support from industries in setting up additional PSA plants in various hospitals”. It said additional licenses, which enable supply of bottled oxygen from 20 small ASU and bottlers and was providing approximately 100 tons of oxygen each day, have also been extended. From 1.63 lakh remdesivir injections allocated to Gujarat between April 21 and 30, allocation has dropped further from May 1 to 9 to 1.44 lakh vials, the affidavit stated. This was despite Gujarat chief secretary Anil Mukim’s April 26 letter to the Centre seeking a 4 lakh vial allocation for 10-day period.
The affidavit added that from 51,288 oxygen and 11,712 ICU beds until April 26, the state has increased its capacity to 57,808 oxygen and 13,513 ICU beds.
Meanwhile, in an affidavit filed by the Centre before the Gujarat HC on Monday, oxygen requirement as per GoI norm as on April 28, was pegged at 391.06 MT against an allocation of 975 MT to the state. The real demand, as pegged by the state, stands at nearly 1,200 MT.
As submitted in the Centre’s affidavit, oxygen requirement of the country is calculated on the basis of number of active cases and based on the trend of cumulative active cases, the doubling rate of cases is calculated for each state.
“Based on the doubling rate, the number of active cases in the next few days are projected and based on the oxygen requirement is calculated,” the affidavit states.
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