Amid rising demand for oxygen in the wake of surging Covid-19 cases, the Centre has allowed import of oxygen concentrators for personal use through post, courier or e-commerce portals under the gift category. The exemption for oxygen concentrators is allowed only for a period till July 31, 2021.
The ministry of commerce in the notification said, “In exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 & Section 5 of the FT (D&R) Act, 1992, read with the paragraph 1.02 and 2.01 of the Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-2020 as amended from time to time, the Central Government hereby amends Para 2.25 of Foreign Trade Policy.’’
“Import of goods including those purchased from e-commerce portals, post or courier, where Custom clearance is sought as a gift, is prohibited except for life saving drugs/medicines/oxygen concentrators and Rakhi (but not gifts related to Rakhi). The exemption for oxygen concentrators is allowed only for a period till July 31, 2021 for personal use,’’ said the notification.
As per the guidelines, gifts over Rs 1,000 attract Customs Duty and 28 per cent integrated GST.
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air.
According to the union health ministry, oxygen concentrators work the same way in supplying oxygen needed by the body such as oxygen tanks or cylinders, with the use of a cannula, oxygen masks or nasal tubes. The difference is that, while the cylinders need to be refilled, the oxygen concentrators can work 24 x 7.
Professor and Head of Department Anaesthesia, BJ Medical College, Pune, Prof Sanyogita Naik said, “Oxygen concentrators can be used only in moderate cases of Covid-19, when the patient experiences drop in oxygen levels, where the oxygen requirement is a maximum of 5 litres per minute. Oxygen concentrators are also very useful for patients experiencing post-COVID complications which necessitate oxygen therapy.” She added that depending upon the capacity, O2 Concentrators cost upwards of Rs 30,000.
According to the ministry, India has seen a big spurt in manufacture and sale of oxygen concentrators. Besides multinational brands, several Indian start-ups, funded under the CAWACH (Centre for Augmenting War with Covid-19 Health Crisis) programme of Department of Science & Technology, have developed efficient and cost effective oxygen Concentrators.
Given their usefulness during the second wave of Covid pandemic, 1 lakh oxygen concentrators are being procured through the PM CARES fund.