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PM Calls for Free Movement, Increased Production of Medical Oxygen

It is important to ensure synergy across ministries and state governments, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Published
India
2 min read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
i

In the wake of the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, 16 April, reviewed the need to ensure adequate supply of medical-grade oxygen in the country.

As cases hit new peaks in several states, the need for medical oxygen, which is critical for the care of COVID-19 patients, has increased.

A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said inputs from ministries, like health, steel, road transport, and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), were also shared with the PM during the review. It is important to ensure synergy across ministries and state governments, the PMO said.

In the coming days, Modi projected the use of oxygen across the 12 high-burden states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

An overview of the situation at the district level was presented to the PM.

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He was informed that the Centre and the states were in regular contact and the estimates for projected demand of oxygen had been shared with the states. Accordingly, 4,880 MT , 5,619 MT and 6,593 MT have been allocated to the 12 states to meet their projected demands of medical oxygen on 20, 25 and 30 April respectively.

The statement said that Modi had suggested increasing oxygen production capacity of each plant and it had been discussed that surplus stocks of oxygen in steel plants could be offered for medical use.

On ensuring efficient supply of oxygen, the statement said that the PM has asked officials to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country. For this, all inter-state movement of oxygen tankers have been exempted from registration of permits.

All states and transporters have been asked to ensure tankers move 24×7 with drivers working in shifts to ensure quick supply.

Cylinder-filling plants will also be permitted to work 24 hours with necessary safeguards, the statement read. The government is allowing industrial, nitrogen and argon cylinders and tankers to be used for medical oxygen after due purging.

Home Secretary Writes to All States

In a letter addressed to chief secretaries of all states, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla stressed the importance of medical-grade oxygen in treating moderate and severe cases of COVID-19. He requested the administration to ensure that no restriction is placed on the movement of medical oxygen between states and UTs.

Transport authorities should allow free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles and the movement of such vehicles will have no restriction of timings, the letter added.

The home secretary also underlined that oxygen manufacturers and suppliers should have no curbs on exporting oxygen to hospitals in different states.

India added a record 2,17,353 new coronavirus infections in a day taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,42,91,917, while active cases surpassed the 15-lakh mark, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

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