The Union Health Ministry on Thursday said no oxygen concentrator, received as aid from abroad, is lying with the customs authorities at any port of import as these consignments are being cleared swiftly.
In all, 3,000 oxygen concentrators have been received as global aid to support the Central government’s efforts and that of the states and Union Territories in their collective fight against the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it said in a statement.
China has sent 1,000 oxygen concentrators, Ireland 700, the UK 669 in four consignments, Mauritius 200, Uzbekistan 151, Taiwan 150, Romania 80, Thailand 30, and Russia 20, the ministry said.
Some news reports have claimed that oxygen concentrators are lying at Customs warehouses awaiting clearance.
“The news is totally incorrect, not based on facts and without any basis. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has clarified that there is no such pendency with Indian Customs. The Indian Customs is swiftly clearing all consignments and no such figure of pendency exists across any port of import,” the health ministry said in the statement.
The oxygen concentrators are either delivered to the identified tertiary care institutions or been dispatched for delivery. The relief material has been dispatched by road and air too, it said.
“There are no oxygen contractors lying in the warehouse of the Customs Department, it is clarified.”
The Indian Customs is sensitive to the need for availability of COVID-related imports including oxygen and oxygen-related equipment and are working round-the-clock to fast track and clear the goods on arrival expeditiously within hours, the statement said.
The goods are given high priority for clearance by the customs systems. While the nodal officers get alerts on email for monitoring and clearance, monitoring by senior officers for the pendency of COVID-related imports is also being undertaken, it said.
Recently, the issue of 3,000 oxygen concentrators reportedly lying with the customs authorities came up in the Delhi High Court and the same was clarified by the government counsel that presently no such consignment is pending.
The Ministry of finance also clarified the matter through an official release on May 3 in response to allegations on social media about 3,000 oxygen concentrators allegedly lying with the customs authorities.
It stated, “We have again checked with our field formations and there is no such consignment lying with the customs. However, since a photograph has also been put on Twitter, if anybody has information as to where it is lying, the same may be informed to us and we will take immediate action.”
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