The Hyderabad police on Saturday booked traders selling oxygen cylinders to desperate COVID-19 patients under home quarantine in the city. The West Zone Task Force of the Hyderabad police arrested one person on Friday and seized 25 oxygen cylinders. The investigation found that some of these cylinders were being sold for as high as Rs 1 lakh per cylinder.
On Saturday, Anjani Kumar, the Hyderabad police commissioner, tweeted that the hoarding, illegal buying or selling of oxygen cylinders is a crime and that the police arrested one person, identified as Mohammad Omer in the medical equipment business in Erragadda for the alleged crime.
Hoarding, illegal buying or selling of Oxygen cylinder is a crime. One person is arrested and sent to jail from 7 Tombs area. 29 Oxygen cylinders were seized from him. All concerned are warned that cases under Explosive Act & Disaster Management Act will be booked for such acts.— Anjani Kumar, IPS, Stay Home Stay Safe. (@CPHydCity) July 11, 2020
Police found Omer in illegal possession of oxygen cylinders; he was selling them to needy customers. He is accused of selling eight full oxygen cylinders of 70 kilogram each and 10 full cylinders of 10 kilogram each without a valid license.
Speaking to TNM, Radhakishan Rao, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Task Force said, “We have information that there could be other gangs presently selling oxygen cylinders in the black market. The investigation is ongoing. The person who was arrested today has been handed over to the Golconda police.”
Golconda police inspector K Chandrashekar Rao said that the police took action based on a tip-off from locals in the area. Several teams of officials were deployed to carry out inspections, among other measures, to check the illegal sale of oxygen cylinders.
Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar on Friday held a meeting with officials to decide on the formation of police teams to look into complaints of the illegal sale of oxygen cylinders, leading to a possible shortage in supply to hospitals.
The joint team consists of officials from the Drug Control Administration, Task Force of the Hyderabad city police, the Directorate of Public Health and the Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives.
The teams on Saturday inspected hospitals and dealers to assess whether the sale and utilisation of oxygen cylinders were in conformity with the guidelines and initiated action in cases of violation.
All hospitals treating COVID-19 patients have been advised by the state to opt for cryogenic liquid oxygen tanks/vessels to avoid bottlenecks due to usage of cylinders, said a press statement from the Chief Secretary’s office on Friday.
The Telangana government has warned of prosecution under the Explosives Act of errant traders who are hoarding oxygen cylinders.
The Hyderabad police had already booked two cases earlier against traders for hoarding oxygen cylinders. Two cases were booked under various laws such as the Drugs & Cosmetics Act 1940, the Indian Penal Code, Disaster Management Act and the Indian Explosives Act, 1984, according to the release.