PM holds COVID crisis meeting as states report oxygen demand outweighing supply
Four key Indian states are experiencing extreme oxygen supply shortage amid ramped up demand of oxygen for Covid-19 patients. Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana governments and hospitals have notified of rapidly depleting oxygen availability. Assessing the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told officials in a high profile meeting on Thursday that oxygen production must be increased. Furthermore, Union Health Ministry has called on all the States to follow distribution plan laid down by the Centre.
India recorded the highest single day Covid-19 case tally, also the highest for any other country – 3,14,835. This is as the states are facing severe shortfalls in oxygen supply. The data shows Delhi to be most severely impacted with deficit of 220 MT (metric tonnes) per day, while Karnataka and Rajasthan have just enough to see through the day, and other states are facing marginal stocks.
According to records, 12 states have witnessed rise in medical oxygen demand by 18% in last six days that account for over 83% of total active cases in India.
A letter was sent on April 15 by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to states Delhi, UP, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, TN, MP and Maharashtra projects a combined demand of 4,880 MT per day for April 20. On April 21, Nipun Vinayak, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, has set the combined demand from these 12 states at 5,760 MT per day.
Meanwhile, Centre has announced next phase of its vaccination drive starting from May 1 wherein all individuals over 18 years of age would be able to receive vaccine against Covid-19. Registration for the same would be open from April 28 on CoWin portal.
On Thursday, PM Modi had a meeting with all top officials including Cabinet Secretary and Secretaries of Home and Health on the oxygen supply crisis in states. It followed orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under Disaster Management Act that no State can hold up supplies to another State. The order issued by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that “no restriction shall be imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between states and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles”.