Government issues order for unrestricted movement of oxygen tankers
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday passed an order that transportation of oxygen tankers must remain unhindered, at a time when healthcare infrastructure has been overburdened due to the surging coronavirus cases. The government underlined that no one can limit the supply of oxygen to one particular state. Senior officials like DMs, DCPs, and SPs will be responsible for implementing the order.
In the two-page order, MHA explained that the decision was taken due to the spike in coronavirus cases. The order was signed by Union Home Secretary. "No restriction shall be imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between the state and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles," one of the seven points read.
The order underlined that no curbs limiting oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the state/UT in which they are located can be passed. "There shall be free movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction," the directive read. The supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted by the government, has been stopped.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also chaired a high-level meeting to review oxygen supply and discussed ways to boost production. "PM spoke about the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects: increasing oxygen production, increasing speed of distribution, and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities," his office revealed. He also gave directions that oxygen should be supplied smoothly.
Notably, oxygen supply and the shortage faced by hospitals are derailing India's battle against the crushing second wave of COVID-19. Yesterday, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij had declared that his state would first meet the demands of its patients before giving oxygen to Delhi. Uttar Pradesh had also approached the Centre, complaining that Delhi is getting a lion's share of oxygen.
As is evident, the row between states has left hospitals struggling. Several hospitals in National Capital Delhi have raised an SOS that they have stocks for just a few hours. Today, Sunil Saggar, CEO, Shanti Mukand Hospital, broke down while speaking about oxygen shortage. "We're hardly left with any oxygen. We've requested doctors to discharge patients, whoever can be discharged" he told ANI.
#WATCH | Sunil Saggar, CEO, Shanti Mukand Hospital, Delhi breaks down as he speaks about Oxygen crisis at hospital. Says "...We're hardly left with any oxygen. We've requested doctors to discharge patients, whoever can be discharged...It (Oxygen) may last for 2 hrs or something." pic.twitter.com/U7IDvW4tMG— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2021
The scenes were similarly grim in neighboring Noida. Officials of Kailash Hospital, one of the most notable medical facilities in the city, said it has stocks that would last a few hours. "We've 4 hospitals in Gautam Buddh Nagar. We've been told we'll receive supply after the next 36 hrs. We've stopped admissions," said Group Medical Director, Dr. Ritu Bohra.