The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked all the states to ensure free movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles without any restriction, as medical oxygen is an important prerequisite for managing moderate and severe COVID-19 cases.
The MHA has also advised the states to constitute multi-disciplinary teams comprising representatives of the health, industry, transport and other related departments to continuously monitor the availability of medical oxygen in their jurisdictions and said that any shortfall or related problems should be immediately brought to the notice of the central control room that has been established in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Referring to reports of some states trying to curb the inter-state movement of oxygen supplies from manufacturing units situated in their respective state, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in a letter to Chief Secretaries of all states and Union territories, has said there shall be free movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles into cities without any restriction on timings while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction.
“It has come to the notice that some states are trying to curb the inter-state movement of oxygen supplies from manufacturing units situated in their respective states by exercising provisions under The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, The Disaster Management Act, 2005, The Essential Commodities Act or any state/UT-specific Essential Services Act, The Indian Penal Code of 1860 (or any other such related Acts) and are also mandating the manufacturers/ suppliers located in the state to restrict their oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the state,” Bhalla wrote.
He said medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in its supplies may critically impact the management of COVID-19 patients. Bhalla also said some states are also mandating manufacturers and suppliers located in the state to restrict their oxygen supplies to the hospitals in the state.
Taking cognisance of such instances, the Home Secretary said that no restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state in which they are located. Bhalla also referred to the Unlock-4 guidelines wherein it has been clearly mentioned that the lockdown is limited to the COVID containment zones and all activities are permitted outside the containment zones except for a few prohibited activities.