To ensure that there is no crisis of oxygen in hospitals across the country, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs prohibited supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted by the government, from Thursday onwards.
The order came amid allegations by some states/UTs like Delhi that their oxygen supply was being blocked by neighbouring states.
“No restriction shall be imposed on the movement of Medical Oxygen between the State and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in an order.
“No restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the State/UT in which they are located,” it said further.
“No authority shall attach the oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas for making supplies specific to any particular district(s) or areas,” the ministry added.
Earlier in the say, the Supreme Court described the COVID-19 situation in the country as almost a “national emergency”. The apex court made the observation while admitting Vedanta’s plea to allow it to open its Sterlite copper unit at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu so that it can produce thousand tonnes of oxygen and distribute it free of cost to treat COVID-19 patients.
The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the opening of the plant. However, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said:
“We understand all this. We will ensure compliance of all environmental norms by the plant and its oxygen producing facility would be allowed to operate. We are on the oxygen plant,” the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said.
“There is almost a national emergency and you (Tamil Nadu) don’t put spokes in the solution. We will hear it (plea of Vedanta) tomorrow,” the bench added.
Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court: “The country is in dire need of oxygen and the Centre is augmenting oxygen from whichever source. Vedanta wants to make its plant operational, but let Vedanta only make it operational to manufacture oxygen for health purposes. Between protecting environment and protecting human life, we must lean in favour of protecting human life.”
The MHA order further said that the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted by the government, has been prohibited w.e.f. 22nd April, 2021 till further orders.
No restriction shall be imposed on the movement of Medical Oxygen between the State and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles: MHA #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/EvOkeuT7By— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2021