New Delhi, May 4: Amid the corona crisis, social media was recently flooded with viral posts stating that about 3,000 oxygen concentrators received as ‘aid’ from various organizations are stuck because of customs clearance. Slamming these claims, the Union Ministry of Finance has clarified that no consignment of 3,000 oxygen concentrators was pending clearance from the customs authorities.
The ministry confirmed it after checking with its field formations and also sought information on the whereabouts of the consignment. In a press release, the ministry said, "The matter regarding a consignment of 3,000 Oxygen Concentrators lying with Customs Authorities came up in the Hon’ble Delhi High Court and the same was clarified by the Government Counsel that presently no such consignment is pending with Custom Authorities."
"However, the social media has been flooded with the news that 3,000 Oxygen Concentrators are lying with Customs. 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," it further added.
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The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) also tweeted along the same lines on Monday, echoing the ministry’s statement about the consignment lying uncleared with the customs department. "No such consignment is pending with customs authorities. However, since a photograph has also been put out on Twitter, if anybody has information as to where it [the consignment] is lying, the same may be informed to us and we will take immediate action," it said.
The image shared by NDTV purported to be of the said oxygen concentrators was actually of the 300 oxygen concentrators received from Hong Kong which are already cleared. Responding to this, the CBIC said, "the 300 oxygen concentrators and other medical equipments had arrived from Hong Kong on 30th April 2021 which were cleared for Customs soon after". CBIC again appealed to everyone that if they have any information of any such oxygen concentrators stuck in Customs, to bring to their notice.
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This clarification by the central government came after the issue of imported oxygen concentrators were allegedly lying with the customs department and pending clearance came up in Delhi High Court on Monday. Prior to this, senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal informed the HC that 3,000 oxygen concentrators belonging to the Max Hospital were stuck with the customs department.