Centre says aid from international community to fight COVID-19 allocated to states
New Delhi, May 05: The Union Government said that the medical supplies sent by the international community to help India fight COVID-19 gave been allocated to the states and Union Territories.
There has been an unprecedented surge in the number of COVID19 cases across the country. The health infrastructure of several States and UTs has been overwhelmed by the very high number of daily cases and increased mortality.
The global community has extended a helping hand in supporting efforts of Government of India in this collective fight against the global COVID19 pandemic. Medical equipment, medicines, oxygen concentrators, ventilators etc., are being provided by many countries, the government said.
A streamlined and systematic mechanism for allocation of the support supplies received by India has been put into place, for effective distribution of the medical and other relief and support material, the Centre also said.
The Indian Customs is sensitive to the need for availability of COVID related imports including Oxygen & Oxygen related equipment etc., and are working 24 x 7 to fast track and clear the goods on arrival and lead to expeditious clearance within hours. The steps taken for expeditious clearance on fast track basis are as follows:
- The Goods are given high Priority for clearance by the Customs Systems for processing over other goods.
- Nodal Officers also gets alert on email for monitoring and clearance.
- Monitoring by senior officers for pendency of COVID related imports is also being undertaken.
- The Handholding to the trade is given for complying with the requirements beforehand.
- Outreach activities and Helpdesk enables Trade to get the goods cleared on arrival.
In addition to faster clearance,
- Indian customs has waived Basic Customs Duty and Health cess on goods identified for defending Covid.
- When imported free of cost and distributed freely, based on the state govt. certification, IGST is also waived.
- Further, for import of oxygen concentrators for personal use, IGST has been reduced from 28% to 12%
A cell was created in the Ministry under Addl. Secretary [Health], MoHFW to coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign COVID relief material as grants, aid and donations. This Cell started functioning on 26th April 2021 and comprises of one Joint Secretary on deputation from Ministry of Education, two Addl. Secy level officers from MEA, Chief Commissioner Customs, Economic Advisor from Ministry of Civil Aviation, Technical Advisor Dte. GHS, Representatives from HLL, two Joint Secretaries from MoHFW and Secretary General along with another representatives from IRCS.
The medical items started coming in as donations from different countries after the rise in sudden cases of Covid across the different parts of the country from the last week of April, via MEA.The materials are being given by countries due to the immediate and urgent requirements in different parts of the country. This help is over and above what government is already providing, and is thus an additionally for the states and UTs.Later on, supplies coming from private companies, entities etc also started routing through the NitiAyog and are handled by this cell.
The group meets virtually at 9.30 AM every morning to sort out all pending issues. During the day, all information by MEA and its resolution by MoHFW, as well as follow up by Technical Advisor Dte. GHS, HLL and IRCS is done onWhatsApp group.
Apart from this, a high-level committee under CEO, NITI Aayog and comprising of Secretary Expenditure, MEA and officials of Niti Aayog and MoHFW has also been formed to oversee the whole operation, the Centre added.
The Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal agency for channeling offers of help from foreign countries and coordinates with Missions abroad. The MEA has issued its own SOPs which are applicable across board.
As per the standard Operating Procedure for allocations taken out by the Health Ministry on 2nd May, 2021:
Since such grant in aid would be limited in quantity, therefore it has to be optimally utilised by allocating it to high burden states [states with higher number of active cases], where the requirement for such equipment/medicines is more.
Spreading such grant in aid thinly each time, over a large number of states may not bring forth the desired results. It will also lead to small packages travelling large distances, high turnaround times and possible wastage of resources.
The requirement of the high burden states in the context of number of persons admitted in hospitals as well as prior distribution done from GOI resources would also be considered. Special focus can also be on states considered as medical hubs of the region, which have a patient in-flow from neighbouring states/cities. In some cases, resource low states such as North Eastern and hill states where tankers etc., don't reach, can also be covered to shore up their needs.
Based on the above criteria and principles, 24 different categories of items numbering nearly 40 lakhs have been distributed to 86 Institutions in different States.
Major categories of equipment include BiPAP Machines, Oxygen (Oxygen Concentrators, Oxygen Cylinders, PSA Oxygen Plants, Pulse Oximeters), Drugs (Flaviparivir and Remdesivir), PPE (Coveralls, N-95 masks and gowns),