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Union Government takes Steps to boost supply of Oxygen to Hospitals

The country has been facing an unprecedented surge in the new daily cases of COVID in various States and UTs across the country. The requirement for Medical Oxygen is a critical component in the treatment of COVID affected patients. In view of the recent surge in the country of COVID19 cases, the requirement of oxygen for effective clinical treatment of COVID patients has also witnessed a manifold hike. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has conveyed that this has already reached about 60 percent of the total daily Oxygen production, and is expected to rise further. There have been reports of shortage of medical oxygen from some States and UTs.

Government of India has been regularly monitoring and ensuring smooth supply of essential medical equipment including medical oxygen to the affected states and addressing challenges that arise from time to time. The Empowered Group-II (EG-II) headed by Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) is mandated by Govt. of India to manage requisite supplies of medical equipments, drugs including medical oxygen across the country. Several immediate and timely measures have been taken in the recent days by Government of India to address the issue of adequate availability of medical oxygen across the country. While every effort is being made to meet the rising demand for medical oxygen, including augmenting daily production and stocks and States/UTs are taking appropriate steps for optimum and rationalized utilisation of available stock of oxygen, the present trend necessitates additional measures.

In another significant decision taken by the Union Government today, the supply of Oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers is prohibited forthwith from 22.04.2021 till further orders. The matter was deliberated by the DPIIT with all the stakeholders and after due deliberations, it was considered prudent to restrict the industrial usage of oxygen to meet the rising demand for medical oxygen. The surplus oxygen available up as a result of this temporary restriction will facilitate its freeing up for use as medical oxygen for treatment of COVID19 patients.

This prohibition, however, shall not apply to the supply of oxygen for the following nine industries:

i)          Ampoules & Vials

ii)         Pharmaceutical

iii)        Petroleum refineries

iv)        Steel plants

v)         Nuclear energy facilities

vi)        Oxygen cylinder manufacturers

vii)       Waste water treatment plants

viii)      Food & water purification

ix)        Process industries which require uninterrupted operation of furnaces, processes, etc. as approved by respective State governments.

The industrial units, other than those listed above, which would not be in a position to obtain oxygen are advised to consider alternate measures such as import of Oxygen or setting up their own Air Separator Units (ASU) for generation of Oxygen for their captive requirements.

The Union Health Ministry has advised all Chief Secretaries to ensure effective implementation & compliance of this Order.

Additionally, the Railways Ministry is gearing up to transport Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) and Oxygen Cylinders across the key Corridors, and to run OXYGEN Express. To facilities easy and smooth transport of oxygen across the country, a Green Corridor is being created to fast movement of Oxygen Express Trains. This will ensure supply of medical oxygen in bulk and rapidly to patients.