Ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply: Centre to states, UTs
The Centre on Thursday invoked the Disaster Management Act and directed the states and Union territories to ensure uninterrupted production and supply of medical oxygen and its transport along interstate borders, amid reports of several states stopping supply vehicles from travelling to other areas.
The order, issued by Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, said the district magistrates, deputy superintendent of police and deputy commissioner of police of the district concerned will be personally liable in case there is any violation.
Section 56 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, which is in force since March 12 last year when the first wave of the coronavirus disease had begun in India, says that any officer refusing to or failing to implement the directions issued by the authority may face imprisonment of one year along with fine.
Asserting that supply of medical oxygen cannot be limited to one state or district, the order said availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of Covid-19 and with increasing cases, the medical oxygen supply will need to keep pace with the requirements of the states and Union territories.
Bhalla directed there should be no restriction on the movement of medical oxygen between the states and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free interstate movement of vehicles carrying oxygen.
He further instructed that no authority shall attach oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through any district for making supplies specific to any particular district. Subsequently, it asked states to make sure there are no restrictions imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the supplies only to hospitals of the respective state.
“There shall be free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without any restriction,” the order said.
The Centre has already prohibited supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those (nine specified industries) exempted by the government beginning Thursday.
The order highlighted that medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in its supplies has the potential to critically impact the management of patients suffering from coronavirus disease in other parts of the country.
The Centre announced on Wednesday evening that it was increasing the quota of oxygen in eight states, including Delhi, in view of the sudden spike in demand due to an exponential rise in the number of Covid-19 patients admitted in hospitals.