A day after the Delhi High Court pulled up the centre over shortage of oxygen in the hospitals of Delhi, the Union home ministry on Thursday prohibited supply of oxygen for industrial purposes.

The ministry has issued a directive to states and Union Territories asking them to make sure there are no restrictions in the supply of medical oxygen.

“Supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except those exempted by the Government, is prohibited w.e.f. 22 April, 2021 and till further orders. States/UTs shall strictly abide by the supply plan of medical oxygen prepared by EG-II (Empowered Group-II) and as revised from time-to-time,” the MHA said in its order.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the Centre, saying it seemed that “human lives are not that important.. for the state”.

“Beg, borrow or steal. It is a national emergency,” said the Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.

“We are shocked and dismayed that the government does not seem to be seeing the reality… What is happening? Why is the government not waking up to the reality,” said the court.

On the Centre’s decision to exempt some industries from the ban on industrial use of oxygen, the Bench said, “You have your own state-run steel plants and petroleum industries. Why can’t you curtail it? Why can’t you stop it? Why can’t you minimise it to whatever is absolutely critical?

“We can understand that you cannot shut down petroleum production completely in the country because it is a critical thing by itself, but you can reduce it. We are sure that if you were to divert their oxygen for medical use, you would be able to meet the requirement,” said the court.

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