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India's oxygen exports increase over 700% amid acute shortage

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NEW DELHI: Several hospitals in Delhi received fresh oxygen stocks late at night on Tuesday after the intervention of Delhi High Court. Hospitals in the capital city have been suffering from acute oxygen shortage. The harrowing conditions at these hospitals were made known by some desperate public calls made by leaders and administrators.

Earlier Delhi government had told the court that Inox, the main vendor for the state's hospitals, was moving its oxygen quota to Uttar Pradesh instead. It had also told the court that the Yogi Adityanath government was even blocking supplies coming into Delhi from plants based there.

Taking up allegations of oxygen shortage and discrimination in resources, the Delhi High Court told the Central government yesterday that economic interests could not override human lives or "we are heading for disaster".

When the Centre said oxygen had been banned for industrial use from April 22 (Thursday), the court asked: "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 Centre then assured all support to the city government whose health system was pushed to the brink by the galloping COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, amid oxygen shortage due to a huge surge of Covid cases in the country, the government data reveals that the oxygen exports from India doubled between April 2020 and January 2021. India exported over 9,000 metric tonnes of oxygen, says a report by NDTV.

According to the data revealed by the report, only 4,500 metric tonnes of oxygen were exported in the financial year 2020 but it was doubled since. From January 2020, when India was exporting 352 metric tonnes of oxygen, the exports increased by a staggering 734 per cent in January 2021, says the report.

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 export data for February and March 2021 have not been made public yet.

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

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TAGS:Oxygen shortage Covid Updates 
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