Amidst increasing demand for medical oxygen and complaints about its scarcity due to the rising COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a high-level meeting to review oxygen supply across the country and discuss ways and means to boost its availability.
During the meeting, the prime minister asked officials to ensure that oxygen supply to various states happens in a smooth and unhindered manner. He also called for fixing responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction of oxygen supply. The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Home Secretary, Health Secretary and officials from Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Minstry of Road Transport, Pharmaceuticals and NITI Aayog.
Modi highlighed the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects -- increasing production of oxygen, increasing the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities.
"PM was briefed on how oxygen supply to states is steadily increasing. Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT/day of liquid medical oxygen, Government of India has from 21st April, allocated 6,822 MT/day to these states," a release from the government said.
The availability of liquid medical oxygen has been increased by about 3,300 MT/day in the last few days with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries.
The prime minister asked ministries to explore innovative ways to increase production and supply of oxygen and also stressed that states should come down heavily on hoarding.
"Representatives from the medical community also spoke about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting the condition of patients," the release said.
Amidst the surge in COVID-19 cases, many states and hospitals have been complainaing of scarcity of oxygen. The Supreme Court and High Courts have also taken cognizance of the issue, with the Supreme Court on Thursday asking Centre for a 'national plan' on issues including supply of oxygen and essential drugs for treatment of patients infected with COVID-19.
India reported 3,14,835 new COVID-19 cases and 2,104 deaths due to the infection in the preceding 24 hours as of Thursday morning.