Amidst shortage of medical oxygen in the country due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre on Saturday relaxed norms under Gas Cylinders Rules, 2016 to fast track approvals for imported cylinders and pressure vessels for storage and transportation of medical oxygen.
The relaxations will be valid for a period of 6 months or till further orders of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, whichever is earlier, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a statement.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) will not carry out physical inspection of global manufacturers' production facilities before granting approval for import.
"Now, such approvals shall be granted online without any delay on submission of manufacturer's particulars; ISO certificate of manufacturer; list of cylinders, their specifications, drawings and batch number; hydro test certificate and third-party inspection certificate. Every foreign manufacturer/importer who wants to import oxygen cylinders is required to apply for import permission through PESO online system," the statement said.
While certification of PESO will not be mandatory pre-shipment, it will be required before use of oxygen cylinders, which entails weight and hydro testing. "The Indian Missions should however ensure that the oxygen cylinders should comply with India or international standards before shipment."
For filled cylinders, the agency exporting to India will have to certify that the oxygen filled in the cylinder is of such purity and concentration that is fit for medical use. The certification will have to be attested by the Indian Mission in the exporting country, and such filled cylinders shall be inspected on sample basis by an empanelled agency of PESO and certified as fit for medical use.
"All the filled cylinders must be verified for quality of gas filled therein under the supervision of medical/ Food and Drugs Controllers and if quality of gas conforms to their requirement of medical oxygen, cylinders may be sent directly to hospitals for use," the statement said.
Regarding PSA (pressure swing adsorption) installation at hospitals with filling facilities or at COVID centres, it said the facilities will not need any permission or license under PESO rules if oxygen generated by PSA plants is directly supplied to hospital and no filling of cylinders is taking place
The department instructed that if the PSA is attached with a compressor and filling of oxygen cylinder is to take place, hospitals have to notify it to PESO with certain information like number of cylinders to be stored at site and number of filling points.
"Any COVID centre may utilise liquid cylinders on board with vaporizer for supplying of gaseous medical oxygen through pipeline or for filling cylinders in open places are permitted" subject to certain conditions, it said.
Further, it said that in case if consignment of oxygen cylinders, ISO containers or PSA plants or its related equipment have already arrived in India, without taking import permission from PESO, due to an urgency, the filling permission for these cylinders will be issued based on relaxed rules.