NEW DELHI: With increase in active cases of COVID-19, the centre on Friday asked all states to ensure adequate and uninterrupted supply of oxygen, directing them to ensure there are no restrictions on inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles.
Pointing out that some states are trying to curb inter-state movement of oxygen supplies from manufacturing units situated in their respective areas, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said no such restrictions can be imposed, adding any impediment in the supplies of medical oxygen may critically impact the management of COVID-19 patients.
“As you are aware, availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe COVID-19 cases.
With the increasing number of active cases of COVID-19, the consumption of oxygen is also expected to increase,” the home secretary said, in his letter to chief secretaries.
“It has come to the notice that some states are trying to curb the inter-State movement of oxygen supplies from manufacturing unit situated in their respective States by exercising provisions under The Epidemic Disease Act, The Disaster Management Act, The Essential Commodities Act or any State / UT specific Essential Services Act, The Indian Penal Code of 1860 (or any other such related Acts) and also mandating the manufacturers/ suppliers located in the state to restrict their oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the state,” according to the communication.
Bhalla said that some states are also mandating manufacturers and suppliers located in the state to restrict their oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the state.
Asserting that the states cannot impose any restrictions on movement of oxygen carrying vehicles, Bhalla said medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and “any impediment in the supplies of medical oxygen in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 in other parts of the country.”
The senior bureaucrat asked states to instruct transport authorities to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles.
The communication stated that “no restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state in which they are located” and “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 Home secretary further advised states and union territories to 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 added that any shortfalls or related problems that are encountered in this regard, 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).
Bhalla also referred to the Unlock-4 guidelines to emphasize that the lockdown is limited to the COVID containment zones and all activities are permitted outside the containment zone except few prohibited activities.
“Further, there shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods,” the senior bureaucrat reiterated.