The Central government on Sunday barred the use of liquid oxygen for any nonmedical purpose and asked manufacturing units to maximise its production for medical use.

The order by Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla came amidst scarcity of medical oxygen in many parts of the country, particularly in Delhi, that have been hit by a fresh wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

After reviewing the oxygen supply situation, the government decided that no exception will be allowed to any industry on the use of liquid oxygen, modifying its earlier order that exempted a few industries.

The central government is trying to source oxygen from different parts of the country and making it available in the worst-hit states by running special trains. It is also getting cryogenic tanks from Singapore and the UAE to transport oxygen and oxygen concentrators from the United States.

The home secretary directed state governments to ensure that “use of liquid oxygen is not allowed for any non-medical purpose and all manufacturing units may maximise their production of liquid oxygen, and make it available to the government for use for medical purposes only, with immediate effect and until further orders.”

The government also said that it would set up 551 dedicated pressure swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants inside public health facilities across the country to boost availability of the life-saving gas. In a press note the PMO said that the PM Cares Fund has given in-principle approval for allocation of funds for their installation and the Prime Minister has directed these plants should be made functional as soon as possible.

“These dedicated plants will be established in identified Government hospitals in district headquarters in various States/UTs. The procurement will be done through Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the PMO stated.