In April, as the second Covid wave intensified, the Centre had diverted all liquid oxygen meant for non-medical purposes and manufacturers for medical use. Several states had then reported a shortage of oxygen to treat Covid patients.
The government has allowed the supply of oxygen to select industries — including steel plants, manufacturing units, MSMEs and certain exporters — on a temporary basis. The move comes amid a drop in Covid-19 cases over the past few days, which has eased demand for medical oxygen.
However, this is subject to “ensuring adequate supply of liquid medical oxygen to hospitals and other medical purposes as per demands of states/Union Territories as well as adequate supply to industries/sectors such as ampules and vials, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing of oxygen cylinders and PSA plants, neutral glass tubing and defence forces”, the home ministry said on Monday in an office memorandum sent to the department for the promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT).
In April, as the second Covid wave intensified, the Centre had diverted all liquid oxygen meant for non-medical purposes and manufacturers for medical use. Several states had then reported a shortage of oxygen to treat Covid patients. Only defence, ampule- and vial-making industry, and pharmaceuticals sectors were permitted to use liquid oxygen.
With the latest order, more industries will be allowed to use liquid oxygen, albeit temporarily. The industries include continuous process industries/plants such as furnaces, refineries, steel, aluminium, copper processing plants, etc; infrastructure projects and plants; micro, small & medium enterprises; exporters of the manufacturing sector requiring oxygen for production, and food processing units, according to the office memorandum.
Amid a drop in cases, various industries had approached the DPIIT to ease the restriction on liquid oxygen. Subsequently, after a review of the oxygen supply for medical use, the DPIIT suggested a temporary relaxation, which was endorsed by the home ministry.
The country reported 1,27,510 fresh Covid cases on Wednesday, the lowest rise in daily infections since April 8. With this, the total case load touched 2,81,75,044.