Even though it was the stated position of the Union government that there is no shortage of oxygen, the Centre on Friday evening showed remarkable alacrity in issuing a series of orders within a span of 24 hours - to ensure uninterrupted supply of cylinders across the country.
To begin with the Centre has identified at least a dozen states afflicted with shortage of medical grade oxygen. (The extent of shortage can be gauged from the fact that some hospitals are refusing to admit people, unless families give a signed undertaking - that they will not hold the facility legally responsible for the lack of oxygen.)
The Centre has finally got its act together and promised that 100 new hospitals would get their own oxygen plants. Besides, it has decided to import oxygen - around 50,000 metric tonnes - from abroad and permit industrial-purpose oxygen to be used to cover the shortfall.
The directions from the Home Secretary came on the heels of PM Modi undertaking a comprehensive review to ensure oxygen supply. Apart from deciding to ramp up production, the prime minister has asked officials to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country.