Modi cancels his visit to West Bengal
Invoking Disaster Management (DM) Act, the Centre on Thursday directed states to ensure uninterrupted production and supply of medical oxygen and its transport along inter-state borders and said the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of the district concerned will be held responsible if there is any violation of its order. The directive under the stringent Disaster Management Act 2005 was issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in the wake of reports that some states blocked supply of medical oxygen to other states amid a sudden spike in Covid pandemic and demand for it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be visiting West Bengal on Friday to address poll meetings as he will be chairing high-level meetings here to review the prevailing COVID-19 situation. “Tomorrow will be chairing high-level meetings to review the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Due to that, I would not be going to West Bengal,” Modi tweeted. After this, no further political meetings of the prime minister are scheduled in West Bengal, thus effectively ending his campaign in the state as of now.
The order said there should be no restriction on the movement of medical oxygen between the states and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles.
On Thursday after the imposition of the Disaster Management Act for the speedy supply of oxygen, PM Narendra Modi holds a high-level meeting on oxygen supply and availability across India. He asked the top officers for using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities. Officials briefed Modi on efforts undertaken to improve oxygen supply. Modi directed them for increasing production and speed of distribution.
Union Home Secretary said the availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19 and with the increasing cases, the medical oxygen supply will need to keep pace with the requirements of the states and union territories.
“Therefore, to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen across the country for the management of COVID-19 patients, in the exercise of powers conferred under the section of the DM Act, the undersigned, in the capacity as chairperson, National Executive Committee, hereby directs the state and Union Territory governments and state and Union Territory authorities to ensure the following measures within their areas of jurisdiction,” the Union Home Secretary said.
The order said there should be no restriction on the movement of medical oxygen between the states and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles. No restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state and the union territory in which they are located. There shall be free movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without any restriction, it said.
No authority shall attach the oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas for making supplies specific to any particular district or area, it further said. Supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those (nine specified industries) exempted by the government, is prohibited from April 22, 2021, and till further orders, according to the directive. The order said that the states and union territories shall strictly abide by the supply plan of medical oxygen prepared by Empowered Group-I and as revised from time to time.
The District Magistrates, Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police, Superintendents of Police, Deputy Commissioners of Police will be personally liable for the implementation of the above directions, it said.
[with PTI inputs]
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