Hyderabad: The Union ministry of health and family affairs on Tuesday said that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen during the second COVID-19 wave in the country.

"Health is a state subject. Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union health ministry to all states and Union Territories. Accordingly, all states and Union Territories report cases and deaths to the Union health ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and Union Territories," said Dr. Bharati Pawar, the minister of state for health and family welfares, while replying to Congress leader K.C Venugopal's question in the Rajya Sabha.

She further said that the Union government has supported the states and undertook a series of actions, including provisioning medical oxygen and other consumables, for COVID-19 patients during April-May 2021.

The Congress, however, refuted the minister's claim and said over 629 Indians died due to lack of oxygen in at least 110 hospitals across the country. "The government can lie, obfuscate data, manipulate the facts but it cannot take away the pain of our people. Every Indian knows what happened in the second wave, propaganda won't change that," it said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, the minister, Dr. Pawar, further said that the Central government, along with the state governments, took all possible steps to tackle the unprecedented surge in oxygen demand during the second wave of COVID-19. This includes enhancement of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) production from 5,700 MTs in August 2020 to 9,690 MTs in May 2021; restrictions on industrial use of oxygen; and augmentation of availability of containers.

A dynamic and transparent framework for allocation of medical oxygen in consultation with states and UTs and all the stakeholders such as relevant ministries and manufacturers and suppliers of liquid oxygen was prepared. Also, online digital solutions viz. Oxygen Demand Aggregation system (ODAS) and Oxygen Digital Tracking System (ODTS) have been developed to ascertain the demand for medical oxygen from all medical facilities and to track their transportation, the minister added.

Also, 1222 PSA oxygen generation plants have been sanctioned, of these 237 plants have been commissioned as of 15 July 2021, she said, and added that apart from this, 295 PSA plants are being installed by different ministries and states have also been asked to prepare state-level oxygen generation plants.

With a view to increasing the storage capacity of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) in the states, under the emergency COVID Package-Part-II, 1,050 LMO tanks along with MGPS at a cost of Rs. 80 lakh each have been approved, she said.

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