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Firms threaten to stop supply of medical gases

By Rituraj Borthakur

GUWAHATI, March 11 - Amid the coronavirus alert, major vendors who provide medical gases, mainly oxygen, to government hospitals have said they would not be able to continue their supply from March 20 if their pending dues � which is to the tune of several crores of rupees � is not released by then.

The vendors, who have not received payment for more than a year, today wrote separate letters to the Director of Medical Education (DME) citing their predicament.

Meghalaya Oxygen Private Limited has not received payment to the tune of the Rs 69 lakh from Barpeta Medical College & Hospital and Rs 2.53 crore from Guwahati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH). Premier Cryogenics Limited has not received payment for about a year and their outstanding dues in GMCH stands at Rs 2.26 crore.

The firms have not received payment for more than a year.

�It is not possible for a unit like us to survive with such a huge credit. We are incurring expenditure on diesel, salary, wages, electricity, chemicals, etc.,� one firm stated in their letter to the DME.

There was a similar situation in 2017. There are around five vendors in the State who supply medical gases to hospitals.

Private hospitals make monthly payment, while the smaller government hospitals also clear their dues regularly.

�In Silchar, we get the payments after two-three months. There is not much problem with smaller hospitals which clear their dues regularly. For more than two months now, we have been pleading with the government to clear the dues, but there is no response from the government. We are afraid we may not be able to continue the supply from March 20,� one of the vendors said.

�We have tried our utmost to maintain uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, etc., in spite of many difficulties in operation in the region. There have been no cases of non-availability of these critical gases so far,� another vendor said.

The GMCH needs the maximum medical oxygen in the State. Around 250 patients survive on medical oxygen daily at the GMCH, of which around 100 are infants.

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