The Centre on Sunday banned the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes except in nine specified industries in view of the shortage of the essential public health commodity in several states amid a spike in COVID-19 infections.

The decision will come into effect from April 22.

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In a communication to all states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that in view of the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and resultant rapid demand for medical oxygen, particularly in high-burden states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the central government-constituted Empowered Group-II has reviewed the supply of oxygen for industrial use in order to divert the same to meet the rising demand for medical oxygen in the country and save precious lives.

Accordingly, the EG-II has recommended to prohibit the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers from April 22 till further orders, with exceptions of nine specified industries.

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The recommendation of the EG-II has been accepted by the government, the home secretary said in his letter.

“I, therefore, urge you to issue necessary instructions to all the authorities concerned in your State to ensure compliance to the decision of the EG-II and take necessary measures to prohibit supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted nine industries. It will help in augmenting supply for medical oxygen in the country and in saving precious lives,” the letter addressed to the chief secretaries of all states and union territories said.