NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday directed the states to ensure uninterrupted movement of medical oxygen-carrying vehicles along their borders, and said they must not impose any curb on production and supply of the essential public health commodity anywhere.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla's communication to chief secretaries of all states and Union territories came in the wake of reports of shortage of the medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients in different parts of the country in the last few days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday also undertook a comprehensive review to ensure adequate medical grade oxygen supply in the country and called for ramping up its production.
In the communication to the chief secretaries of states/UTs, the Union home secretary said there is no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods as announced in the guidelines on March 23.
He said in the last few days, a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases has been observed in the country along with high positivity rate, and in order to break the chain of transmission and curb the spread of the infection, various states and UTs have imposed additional restrictions on certain activities, curfews, among others.
Bhalla 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 supplies will need to keep pace with the requirements of the states.
The home secretary emphasised that medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in its supply in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 disease in other parts of the country.
"Therefore, you are requested to ensure that no such restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between the states and UTs, and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles," the letter said.
Bhalla told the states that no curb 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 and there shall be free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction.
Keeping in view the requisition of medical oxygen and to ensure its smooth supplies to agencies concerned, Empowered Group-Il, which is mandated for coordinating medical logistics including oxygen, has prepared a supply plan that is required to be followed by all states/UTs and agencies concerned, he said.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)