Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala has urged the Centre to consider exempting Goods and Service Tax on oxygen concentrators as India battles a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported. In a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday, Chautala said such an exemption would make these machines more affordable for the public.

“As we know that most of the oxygen concentrators are not produced domestically and large quantities of such concentrators are being imported presently in view of the current pandemic crisis, I request you to consider exempting GST on oxygen concentrators for the time being thereby making oxygen concentrators more affordable for the public,” read Chautala’s letter.

Earlier, the Centre had cut Integrated GST on oxygen concentrators for personal use from 28% to 12% for two months. The reduced IGST rate will be applicable up to June 30. In his letter, Chautala thanked the government for the move. His Jannayak Janta Party is a coalition partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana.

Shortages of medical oxygen have been reported from several states as daily Covid-19 infections have soared since the start of April.

On Sunday, at least three hospitals in Delhi sent out desperate pleas for oxygen as their stocks dwindled. On Saturday, 12 patients, including a doctor, died in the city’s Batra Hospital after oxygen ran out for more than an hour at the private facility. This was the third such incident in a week time.

At a hearing, the Delhi High Court took note of the deaths at Batra Hospital and told Centre to make arrangements for the allocated supply of oxygen to be given to the national Capital. “Enough is enough,” the court had said. “Water has gone above the head. You have to arrange everything now.”

Subhas Yadav, superintendent of Anand Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, had on Thursday blamed the oxygen crisis for the death of three coronavirus patients at the facility in the past 24 hours, The Telegraph reported. Meanwhile, Vinay Sharma, superintendent of Tender Palm Hospital in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar neighbourhood, told reporters he was standing at the gate of an oxygen refilling centre because his patients urgently needed the life-saving gas.

On April 24, at least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died after the Jaipur Golden Hospital ran out of oxygen. A day earlier, 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the city amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen.