New Delhi, Apr 23 (PTI) The Centre on Friday directed all states to prepare a list of oxygen producers in their respective jurisdiction and asked them to take steps for the revival of closed units to augment supply to meet the increased demand amid a surge in COVID-19 infections.
In a letter to states, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also said that instances of vehicles carrying oxygen being stopped still continued and directed them to ensure uninterrupted supply and transport of the essential public health commodity.
With a view to make available additional tankers for movement of oxygen, the home ministry is coordinating lifting of high capacity tankers from abroad, including Singapore and the UAE, by Indian Air Force transport planes.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah Friday reviewed the coronavirus situation in the country and suggested various measures to augment the supply of oxygen for medical purposes, according to an official statement.
A home ministry expert group is also optimising and rationalising the allocation of oxygen to various states and union territories keeping in view the active cases and to reduce time for movement of medical oxygen, the statement said.
In a separate letter, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla told Chief Secretaries that oxygen generating plants are available in many districts of the country, not necessarily for medical purposes and these facilities can be used for supplying oxygen to local hospitals.
'I would like to request you to have all such facilities mapped immediately. For this, District Collectors or Deputy Commissioners should be asked to list all the plants in which different types of oxygen is generated, including the ones that can be bottled in cylinders, along with the installed capacity,' he said.
Bhalla said in case some of the plants are closed, those should also be listed and necessary action should be taken for their revival. He said these efforts will ensure easy availability of oxygen at the district level, besides supply of medical oxygen from usual channels.
'I would also like to strongly advise that keeping in view the supply constraints, oxygen allocation to various districts and cities need to be rationalised, keeping in view the number of active cases,' he said.
The home secretary also urged the states to take immediate actions on the above suggestions and send an action taken report, followed by a status report urgently to the MHA.
In the first letter, the home secretary said an order has already been issued on free movement of oxygen between the states and not to impose restriction on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the state or union territory in which they are located.
'However, instances have been reported in some districts from different States and UTs, wherein oxygen carrying vehicles have been stopped. Such instances are not only in violations of the aforesaid MHA Order but also inhibits the timely supply of medical oxygen to the allocated State and UT, and in turn affect treatment of COVID- 19 patients,' Bhalla said, asking the states to ensure the timely delivery of oxygen to their destinations. PTI ACB SKL SMN SMN