Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked all states to ensure that tankers carrying oxygen to other states must not be stopped or delayed. He said this at a meeting with the Chief Ministers of the 11 worst Covid-hit states after Delhi Chief Arvind Kejriwal alleged that some states were stopping medical oxygen being transported to the national capital.
As the shortage of oxygen, hospital beds and medical supplies amid a spurt of coronavirus cases across the country were discussed, PM Modi urged states to set up high-level coordination committees to carry oxygen to different hospitals.
These committees would ensure oxygen is allocated to hospitals as soon as it is allotted to states by the centre.
Assuring the “high Covid-burden” states of support from the centre, he called for the states to remain united in the fight against the virus.
He said the basis of India’s success during the first wave of the pandemic was its united efforts and united strategy and reiterated that the country will have to address this challenge in the same way.
Mr Kejriwal, addressing PM Modi, said: “Will people of Delhi not get oxygen if there is no oxygen-producing plant here? Please suggest whom should I speak to in the central government when an oxygen tanker meant for Delhi is stopped in another state”.
“People in major pain due to oxygen shortage. We fear a big tragedy may happen due to oxygen shortage and we will never be able to forgive ourselves. I request you with folded hands to direct all Chief Ministers to ensure smooth movement of oxygen tankers coming to Delhi,” he added.
Earlier this month, the Delhi government had alleged that oxygen meant for the national capital had been stopped in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
PM Modi urged all states to work together and coordinate with one another to fulfil requirements relating to medicines and oxygen, a government statement read.
He also asked states to check hoarding and black marketing of oxygen and medicines.
PM Modi said the centre was exploring all options to reduce the time taken by authorities to supply oxygen to hospitals.
“For this, Railways has started Oxygen Express. Empty oxygen tankers are also being transported by the Air Force to reduce one way travel time,” the statement quoted him as saying.
The country today reported over three lakh daily Covid cases for the second consecutive day. The massive active caseloads have been exerting tremendous pressure on the health infrastructure of the country.
To plug the demand-supply gap, the centre has ramped production in oxygen plants and is importing the life-saving gas from abroad.