Finance Minister assures “seamless supply” of medical oxygen to States

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 21, 2021

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman   -  PTI

Reiterates the importance of micro-containment policies over lockdown in her virtual interaction with CII’s top members

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday assured “seamless supply” of medical oxygen to the States even while noting that several are being taken by the government to augments its supply for COVID19 treatment.

Measures that the government is taking include importing medical oxygen, round the clock working of the oxygen filling stations and allowing containers used for nitrogen and argon to be used for oxygen, Sitharaman said addressing more than 150 senior industry captains in a virtual interaction organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Her remarks on medical oxygen is significant as it comes at a time when the national capital Delhi is reeling with shortage of medical oxygen on the back of sharp surge in the number of daily new COVID19 infections.

Meanwhile, Sitharaman praised Indian industry for its stoic endurance in the current pandemic times and described their extreme forbearance, patience and perseverance with a Japanese word ‘Gamanzuyoi’.


Micro containment strategy

Sitharaman emphasised on the need for adopting micro containment strategy in dealing with the 2nd surge of the pandemic and acknowledged that the deliberations with CII had helped shaped this strategy. Explaining the rationale, the Finance Minister said that unlike last time “we now have important tools such as vaccines and medicines, to deal with the pandemic”.

The Finance Minister also gave details of Government initiatives to help ramp up capacity of Remdesivir from 36 lakh vials per month to 78 lakh vials per month. Some of these measures include rapid clearances for new capacities, stopping exports, stopping the exports of APIs and formulations used in the manufacture of this drug, and allowing EoUs and manufacturers located in SEZs to also sell in the domestic market, She said.

During the interaction, CII members manufacturing Remdesivir apprised the Finance Minister that they were in fact working towards exceeding the committed target of 78 lakh vials per month and aiming to reach a production of 1 crore vials per month.

Elaborating on the recent announcements on the vaccination, the Finance Minister said that the CII’s suggestions on opening up of the vaccination to all adults, allowing industry to vaccinate its employees and their families and allowing vaccine imports have all been accepted in the policy. The Government has also cleared an advance payment of ₹ 4,600 crore to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Bio Tech, to help them ramp up capacities.



In her address to the FICCI National Executive Committee Members through virtual mode, Sitharaman urged the industry to wait and watch for the next few days to assess the situation and the second wave of COVID19 pandemic.

“I would request the industry to watch the next few days a bit more carefully, and then assess for yourself what this quarter is going to be like”, she said.

She also said that sectors like hospitality, aviation, travel, tourism and hotels faced great difficulty since the start of the COVID19 pandemic. “ We have extended the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS 2.0) for these sectors and I will ensure the efficiency with which it was performing last year shall perform even for the aviation and tourism sector”, Sitharaman said.

On oxygen supply, Sitharaman said that as soon as the medical oxygen demand will meet, the industry would also get the necessary supply of oxygen since the import of medical oxygen has been allowed. India is now looking to import 50,000 tonnes of medical oxygen to meet the increased demand post the surge in COVID19 cases in recent weeks.

India is recording near 3 lakh daily new COVID19 infections as the second wave of the pandemic continues to cause havoc to life and livelihoods in the country since early this month.



Published on April 21, 2021

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