Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 18
The Centre has asked the state government to ensure that there is no restriction on the manufacture, transportation and supply of medical oxygen in any part of the country, as it is an essential item in the management of increasing numbers of active COVID-19 patients.
Shooting off a letter to all the chief secretaries of the states and Union Territories (UTs), Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said, “As you are aware, availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for management of moderate and severe cases of COVID-19. With increasing number of active cases of COVlD-19, the consumption of oxygen is also expected to increase.”
In the letter the Home Secretary said, 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 power under various laws including Epidemic Disease Act 1897, the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Essential Commodities Act. He further emphasised that medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in its supplies in the country may critically impact the COVID-19 management in other parts of the country.
Therefore, Bhalla in the letter advised that “no such restriction is imposed” on the movement of medical oxygen between states. He also noted that transport authorities “shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state and intra-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles”.
“It is also requested that all states and UTs 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,” he advised in the letter, while suggesting that any shortfall or related problems should be immediately brought to the notice of the Central Control Room that has been established in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
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