Worsening Covid-19 situation and a growing demand for oxygen cylinders in Hyderabad has lead to the black marketing of this basic life-saving equipment.
In the last two days, the city cops busted black marketing rackets of oxygen cylinders and arrested people for illegal possession and selling without valid licenses.
Police said oxygen cylinders were being sold to desperate COVID-19 patients under home quarantine in the city with a single equipment fetching as high as Rs 1 lakh price.
On Sunday, city’s North Zone Commissioner’s task force arrested 36-year old businessman Shaik Akbar for illegally procuring and selling of medical oxygen cylinders and other gas cylinders without a license from the concern authorities.
Akbar illegally procured huge quantity of medical oxygen cylinders from a gas agency owner in the city outskirts area and then sold them for a higher price to customers in desperate need. The accused also purchased storage of carbon dioxide and LPG gas cylinders in order to delivery to customers on commission basis.
The police seized about 19 oxygen cylinders and took Akbar into custody for further investigation.
“The accused purchased oxygen cylinders from Baba Gas Agency in Nacharam without any valid license or permission from Drug Control Authorities and the Controller of Explosives,” Deputy Commissioner of Police RadhaKishan Rao said.
This is not the first time that the city police booked traders for selling cylinders without a valid license. On Saturday, too, raids were conducted and around 29 oxygen cylinders were seized from Seven Tombs area in the city.
Sources said several gangs are involved in the hoarding of oxygen cylinders. The investigation is on and teams have been deployed to conduct raids at several places following a tip off.
In fact, a few organisations have already been warned by the police and a few others have moved away the cylinders to different places following an information leak on raids.
In Telangana, Hyderabad is a major cluster with more than 60 percent of the Covid19 cases reported from the city. There is a high demand for oxygen cylinders in the market from people in home quarantine and also from hospitals.
Government doctors have also come on record and complained about the unavailability of oxygen support in state-run hospitals amid a surge in cases.
The Telangana chief secretary on Friday said that teams would be set up to inspect hospitals and dealers whether sale and utilisation of oxygen cylinders has been in conformity with guidelines. The team would comprise of officials from the Drug Control Administration, Task Force of the Hyderabad police, Director of Public Health and Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives.
All dealers must possess valid licenses, failing which they would be prosecuted under the Explosives Act.
According to the state health department, there are about 3,537 oxygen beds and 2,926 of them are vacant in the hospitals.