As India chokes with shortage of oxygen supply amid the coronavirus pandemic, oxygen exports from India doubled between April 2020 to January 2021, reveals government data.
According to a report in NDTV, during the period, more than 9,000 metric tonnes of oxygen were exported.
It said in the financial year 2020, only 4,500 metric tonnes of oxygen were exported but, the exports increased by a staggering 734 per cent in January 2021.
The country exported 2,193 metric tonnes of oxygen in December – a 308 per cent increase compared to 538 metric tonnes in December 2019.
The data on oxygen exports pust a huge question mark on the government policy and forward planning.
The Health Ministry recently said it has requested the Ministry of External Affairs to identify and explore from where oxygen can be imported.
Last week, Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and other places, started reporting an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders. 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.
The government then 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.
However, Delhi High Court questioned, “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.”
“Economic interests can’t override human lives. Else we are heading for a disaster.”