The centre has tweaked a previous order that exempted nine categories of industries from diverting liquid oxygen for medical use. This time, amid the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre said those nine industries are no longer exempted from manufacturing liquid oxygen only for medial use.
“Use of liquid oxygen is not allowed for any non-medical purpose and all manufacturing units may maximise their production of liquid oxygen, and make it available to the government for use for medical purposes only, with immediate effect and until further orders,” the Union Home Secretary said in the order.
“Further, all stocks of liquid oxygen should be made available to the government for use for medical purposes. No exception is allowed to any industry with regard to use of liquid oxygen,” the order said.
The surge in Covid cases in recent weeks have led to what is now being called a deadlier second wave of the pandemic. Social media is full of stories of desperate people trying to find oxygen or a hospital bed for their friends and family.
More and more people this time are complaining of breathlessness, which needs oxygen support. However, the supply of oxygen has become severely limited due to the sudden jump in demand across cities and towns.
The government’s move to increase oxygen supply is aimed at plugging the oxygen gap in the country, particularly in high-burden states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
Shortage of medical oxygen is being reported constantly by hospitals across the country. Many are posting their SOS on social media for faster intervention.
To ensure supply of oxygen in bulk and rapidly to patients, the railways is running ‘Oxygen Express’ trains and a green corridor has been created for fast movement of these trains.
The nine industries that were earlier exempted from supplying medical oxygen are – ampoules and vials, pharmaceutical, petroleum refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, oxygen cylinder manufacturers, waste water treatment plants, food and water purification and process industries, which require uninterrupted operation of furnaces.