Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review the oxygen supply across India and discussed the ways to boost its availability, according to an official statement.
The meeting, which was attended by principal secretary to the Prime Minister PK Mishra, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, home secretary Ajay Bhalla and officials of Niti Aayog and other ministries, comes in the backdrop of states and Union territories reporting severe shortage of oxygen amid the spiking cases and deaths of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
During the meeting, Modi highlighted the importance to work rapidly on three aspects which are- increasing the production of oxygen, increasing its speed and distribution and utilising innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities, the statement said.
The officials told the Prime Minister an elaborate exercise is being carried out in coordination with states in order to identify their demands of the gas and ensure supplies accordingly and how these supplies were steadily increasing.
“Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT/ day of Liquid Medical Oxygen, Government of India has from 21st April, allocated 6,822 MT/ day to these states,” the statement added.
Modi also ordered the officials to make sure the supplies to states happen in a smooth manner and there is a need to fix responsibility with the local administration in the case of any obstruction. He stressed the fact that state governments should come down heavily on hoarding of oxygen.
The Centre is undertaking various steps to rapidly increase the availability of cryogenic tankers through conversion of nitrogen and argon tanks, import and airlifting of tankers as well as manufacturing them, the statement said.
In a separate order, the Union home ministry said on Thursday there will be no restriction in the movement of oxygen and added the supply cannot be limited to a specific state or Union territory.
The order comes after the Supreme Court took a suo motu cognisance of the prevailing pandemic situation in India regarding several points apart from oxygen supply such as supplies of essential drugs, vaccination etc and asked the Centre to present a national plan on all these areas.
India on Thursday reported the world’s highest single day spike with over 314,000 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the caseload to nearly 16 million. The death toll has climbed to 184,657 after 2,104 more people succumbed to the disease.