Badly hit by COVID crisis, black-marketing of medical oxygen runs rampant in Bihar
If sources are to be believed, black marketing of oxygen cylinders now has become the second most lucrative activity for making fast bucks after the smuggling of liquor in Bihar.
Published: 04th May 2021 08:44 AM | Last Updated: 04th May 2021 08:44 AM | A+A A-
PATNA: Despite all the claims of the Bihar government, the black marketing of medical oxygen continues in the state on a large scale. Barring a few big government hospitals, almost all private and district-level government hospitals are reportedly facing shortage of medical oxygen.
As a result of it, fatality rate among the COVID-19 positive patients admitted in hospitals has increased to an alarming extent. Sources from medical fraternity said that nearly 50 to 55 per cent of corona patients, admitted in private and government hospitals, die everyday for want of oxygen out of total deaths reported in the state.
30-year-old Rohan Kumar said: "When I did not get an oxygen cylinder a couple of days ago, I purchased two new oxygen cylinders of 10 litres each at Rs 15000 for my corona patient father, from black market."
He is not alone, who had to pay a huge money for procuring two oxygen cylinders from black market. If sources are to be believed, black marketing of oxygen cylinders now has become the second most lucrative activity for making fast bucks after the smuggling of liquor in Bihar.
One cylinder of 14 litres of oxygen is sold at Rs 20000 to Rs 25000 in the black market. Gaurav Rai, who is known as oxygen man of Bihar because of his service of providing free oxygen cylinders, said that all mechanisms to check the black marketing of cylinders have failed in the state.
"What to speak of shortages of cylinders of oxygen only, even a pipe and the flow metres of oxygen cylinders are also out of the markets but sold at an exorbitant prices Rs 250 to Rs 350 in black market," he said.
In Patna, which has highest number of 17224 active positive cases, 98 per cent of private hospitals, barring government AIIMS, PMCH, IGIMS and NMCH, are running short of oxygen cylinders. As health minister Mangal Pandey claimed, the central government has already increased the quota of oxygen from 194 MT tonnes to 214 MT tonnes for Bihar.
He also claimed with media that oxygen is being generated by 19 plants in the state for medical urgency. Taking serious note of shortage of oxygen, Leader of opposition Tejashwi Tadav on Monday accused the Nitish Kumar-led government of being failed to sort out the acute shortage of oxygen.
"Please don’t play with the health of a Bihari for the sake of chair, Nitish Kumarji. Why are you not demanding oxygen allocation from the centre government in the ratio of caseload? Have you made a caseload projection for the month of May and sent it to the centre?" Tejashwi Yadav asked.
A number of medical practitioners of Patna, wishing not to be quoted, said that if shortage of oxygen prolongs just few one week in Bihar, fatality rate will crossed over to 50 per cent of reported cases for want of oxygen.
Team formed to raid on illegal hoarding of oxygen cylinders and medicines
The Economic Offences Unit (EOU), following the direction of CM Nitish Kumar and DGP SK Singhal, has constituted two teams for the state-level verification and legal action against the hoarding of oxygen cylinders and its black-marketing.
In the last few days, stepping up actions against illegal hoarding of oxygen cylinders and its black-marketing, the EOU teams had recovered more than 63 cylinders of oxygen in Patna alone. So far, many persons have been arrested including a shopkeeper on Monday in Patna with seven oxygen cylinders on charge of illegal hoarding of oxygen cylinders.
Addl DGP (EOU) Nayyar Hasnain Khan said that teams have started taking actions against illegal hoarding of oxygen cylinders. "The EOU teams are working under leadership of a DSP-rank officer to checkon illegal activities like hoarding oxygen and medicines," he said.