India’s oxygen export rose over 700% in Jan 2021 vs 2020 amid Pandemic

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the Delhi High Court’s contempt notice against the Centre in the oxygen supply matter. Representational image.

India’s oxygen export has doubled even when people in the country die of breathlessness and the demand for oxygen is on the rise in the huge surge in the second wave of Covid-19.

Between April 2020 and January 2021, India exported over 9,000 metric tonnes of oxygen, government data reveals.

In the financial year 2020, India’s oxygen export was only 4,500 metric tonne, but inexplicably, it was doubled since.

From January 2020, when India was exporting 352 metric tonnes of oxygen, the exports increased by a staggering 734 percent in January 2021.

The country exported 2,193 MT oxygen in December – a 308 percent increase compared to 538 metric tonnes in December 2019.

However the government has not made the export data for February and March 2021 public yet.

These details raise new questions on government policy at a time several states have flagged an oxygen emergency.

Yesterday, top Delhi hospitals said they had only a few more hours of oxygen left. However, new tankers arrived late at night.

Lives are at stake

The Delhi High Court pulled up the Centre on its decision to ban oxygen for industrial use from tomorrow. “Why not do it today itself? Why wait for April 22? Lives are at stake. Are you going to tell patients to wait till April 22 for oxygen,” the court questioned.

“Economic interests can’t override human lives. Else we are heading for a disaster.”

The Centre had argued recently that private hospitals give excess oxygen to patients for “psychological purposes”, leading to misuse. It has advised all states including Delhi to rationalise the use of oxygen. The Centre also asked them not to administer oxygen to patients who do not clinically need it, the Centre said.

After crisis calls from states, a high-level review meet was chaired yesterday by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and attended by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, NITI Aayog (Health) member Dr VK Paul, and others.

The Home Secretary pointed out the steep growth in the number of cases all across the country. From 20,000 cases reported on January 1, India has almost 10 times more cases (more than 2,00,000 cases) reported daily since April 15. This morning, India recorded 2,95,041 fresh cases and 2,023 deaths in the last 24 hours.

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