As country-wide demand for medical oxygen slowly falls, the Centre may soon lift the ban on the supply of liquid oxygen to industry, according to an exclusive report by Indian Express.
The report further added that the demand for medical oxygen came down to about 6,000 metric tonnes (MT) a day from the peak of over 8,900 MT a day about a month ago.
Last month, the government banned the supply of liquid oxygen to industry in view of increased demand for medical oxygen. The Empowered Group-2, which is tasked with ensuring oxygen supply to hospitals, had recommended that supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers be “prohibited forthwith from 22.04.2021”.
Following the recommendation, the Centre issued orders to stop the supply of liquid oxygen to industries, with a few specific exemptions.
Data from Empowered Group-2 show that the total oxygen supplied to hospitals hit a peak of 8,944 MT on May 9. By May 18 and 19, it had fallen to 8,100 MT per day, but went up marginally to 8,334 MT on May 20.
Exercising the powers conferred under the Disaster Management Act, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had directed the states to ensure that “use of liquid oxygen is not allowed for any non-medical purpose and all manufacturing units may maximise their production of liquid oxygen, and make it available…for medical purposes only".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday also said that providing medical-grade oxygen to different states during the second wave of COVID-19 was a challenge. In normal times, daily production of liquid medical oxygen was 900 million tonnes (MT), which has now risen over 10 times to nearly 9,500 MT, the prime minister said. Liquid oxygen is used in steel making, chemical, pharmaceuticals, petroleum processing and paper manufacturing industries.
As per the Union health ministry’s update on Sunday, India recorded a single-day rise of 1,65,553 in new COVID-19 cases, the lowest in 46 days, taking the country’s infection tally to 2,78,94,800. The daily positivity rate declined to 8.02 per cent, remaining below the 10 per cent-mark for five consecutive days, while the weekly positivity rate dropped to 9.36 per cent, it said.