Mumbai: Given the increasing shortage of life-saving oxygen in the wake of burgeoning demand from Covid patients, the Central government on Sunday banned the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes. In a letter to all chief secretaries, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked them to take all measures to prohibit the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted.
“Keeping in view the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and resultant rapid demand for medical oxygen, particularly in high-burden states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, the EG-II (Empowered Group-II) has reviewed the supply of oxygen for industrial use in order to divert the same to meet the rising demand for medical oxygen in the country and save precious lives,” reads the letter.
“Accordingly, the EG-II has recommended prohibiting the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers from April 22 till further orders, with the exception of nine specified industries,” it added.
In the letter, Bhalla said that the recommendation had been accepted by the government.
However, the Centre had exempted nine industries, including ampoules and vials, pharmaceuticals, petroleum refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, oxygen cylinder manufacturers, wastewater treatment plants, food and water purification and process industries, which require uninterrupted operation of furnaces and processes.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Piyush Goyal has said that 6,177 metric tonnes of oxygen have been finalised to be distributed to states. Maharashtra will get the biggest share of 1,500MTs of oxygen, Delhi 350MTs and Uttar Pradesh to get 800MTs, he added.
“Except for nine sectors, supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers will be prohibited from April 22, as a temporary measure. This has been done to ensure adequate supply of oxygen to hospitals,” he said.
“State governments should keep demand (for medical oxygen) under control. Demand-side management is as important as supply-side management. Containing Covid spread is the responsibility of state governments and they should fulfil this responsibility,” he added.