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Medical Oxygen shortage in India, Why? – Burning Issues – Free PDF Download

  • While the supply of medical Oxygen runs low across the country and it gears up to import medical Oxygen, official data shows that nearly 9,294 metric tonnes (MT) of Oxygen was exported by India in just the first three quarters of the 2020-21 financial year.
  • According to the official figures of the Commerce Department, Oxygen exports in the April-January period of FY21 was more than double the total 4,502 MT of exports in the previous year. This was in the form of liquid oxygen, which can be later channeled for both industrial and medical use.
  • Exports to neighbouring Bangladesh far outpaced outbound shipments to any other nation, with 8,828 MT exported across the border. Bangladesh has historically been the largest buyer of India’s oxygen exports.
  • demand has skyrocketed as the country battles its own coronavirus fueled crisis and suffers from a severe lack of large scale Oxygen production. While the demand had mostly been due to industrial requirements earlier, the latest surge in imports is due to Dhaka’s rising need for medical Oxygen.

  • While exports from India had reached a 3-year high in just the first nine months of FY21, the government has now decided to float a tender for importing a whopping 50,000 MT of medical Oxygen from abroad. In charge of creating and executing the tender, the Health Ministry recently said that it has requested the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to tap into India’s diplomatic missions around the world to identify and explore from where oxygen can be imported.
  • On April 18, India’s oxygen consumption touched an all-time high of 4,300 MT per day. Pre-COVID it was 850 MT per day and the previous peak was 3,100 MT on September 18, 2020. Average stock level in hospitals of several states had declined to 1 day as compared to 3 days before the pandemic.

  • Last week, after state governments in Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and other places, started reporting an acute shortage of Oxygen cylinders, the government had clarified that India had a production capacity of 7,127 MT of oxygen per day. However, just after that, it ordered that supply of Oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers will be prohibited from 22 April onwards, until further orders are given. Also, from 19 April onwards, Indian Railways has begun transporting Liquid Medical Oxygen and Oxygen Cylinders across the country. Green corridors have been established to facilitate the fast movement of dedicated Oxygen Express trains.


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