After the issue of poor availability and black marketing of oxygen in some states was raised in Parliament, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written to states not to block movement or supply of oxygen as it is essential to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to chief secretaries of all states, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has said that some states are curbing the supply of oxygen by issuing orders under Essential Commodities Act or Epidemic Diseases Act.
“It has come to the notice that some States are trying to curb the inter-State movement of oxygen supplies from manufacturing units situated in their respective States by exercising provisions under The Epidemic Disease Act 1897, The Disaster Management Act, 2005, The Essential Commodities Act or any State / UT specific Essential Services Act, The Indian Penal Code of 1860 (or any other such related Acts) and also mandating the manufacturers/ suppliers located in the state to restrict their oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the State,” Bhalla wrote.
He said medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in its supplies may critically impact the management of Covid-19 patients.
The letter requested the states to ensure:
– No such restriction is imposed on movement of medical oxygen between states and transport authorities shall be instructed to allow free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles.
– No restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit oxygen supplies only to hospitals of the state in which they are located.
– There shall be free movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles into cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction.
“As you are aware, availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of Medical Oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate & severe cases of COVlD-19. With increasing number of active cases of COVlD-19, the consumption of oxygen is also expected to increase,” Bhalla said in the letter.
He also reminded states the Unlock 4 guidelines made it clear that there would be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods anywhere in the country.
“It is also requested that all States and Union Territories may constitute multi-disciplinary teams, comprising representatives of the health, industry, transport and other related Departments, to continuously monitor the availability of medical oxygen in their respective jurisdictions. Any shortfalls/related problems that are encountered in this regard, should be immediately brought to the notice of the Central Control Room established in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the letter said.
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