Several media outlets recently made misleading assertions that India had exported a large quantity of medical oxygen from January 2021 to March 2021. The reports by mainstream media organisations, including Moneycontrol, News 18 and NDTV, suggested that India had exported nearly 9,300 MT of oxygen in the financial year ending 31st March 2021. Some reports also claimed that India exported 9,884 MT of medical oxygen from January 2021 to March 2021. These reports were used and propagated by opposition leaders to attack the Modi govt, accusing the govt of exporting oxygen at time the country is facing a shortage of the commodity.
The reports of oxygen exports were staunchly refuted by the Indian government, who termed the reports as misleading and asserted that malicious propaganda is being spread regarding the export of oxygen by India during the pandemic. It further slammed the media organisations who peddled the falsehoods, claiming that they had mistaken industrial oxygen for medicinal oxygen.
After the Indian government termed the reports of oxygen exports as misleading, Moneycontrol deleted its original article and expressed regret for portraying a misleading picture of the industrial oxygen exports from India.
“This article has been deleted because it portrayed a misleading picture of industrial oxygen exports from India and was causing unnecessary panic. The export of oxygen for largely industrial purposes in the first three quarters of 2020-21 (April 2020 to January 2021) was to the extent of 9,294 metric tonnes. This represented a little more than one day’s production capacity in the country. The article should not have been published in the first place. The error is regretted,” the corrigendum posted by Moneycontrol read.
The corrigendum came in the wake of a report published by Moneycontrol which claimed that India exported nearly 9,300 metric tonnes of oxygen in the first three months of 2021. Money Control did not specify whether the exported oxygen was medical oxygen, fit for patients, thereby adding to the panic.
The misleading news about India’s oxygen exports was also shared by habitual fake news peddler NDTV. However, instead of showing basic courtesy of apologising for spreading misinformation, NDTV brazened out the lies it had spread about India’s oxygen export.
Even after the government clarification on the misleading reports about the oxygen exports, NDTV ran a story alleging that India’s oxygen exports rose to over 700 per cent in January 2021 as compared to 2020.
Media outlets mistake industrial oxygen for medicinal oxygen to allege that GoI exported oxygen in the midst of pandemic
On April 21, the Government of India had rubbished the claims that India exported 9,884 MT of medical oxygen from January 2021 to March 2021. It said that malicious propaganda is being spread that India had exported scarce medical oxygen during the pandemic year of 2020-21. “This is absolutely false and industrial oxygen exports are being mistaken as medical oxygen,” the central government said.
The sources in government further added that there are two categories of exports of liquid oxygen that are medical and others (industrial). During April-February 2020-21, India indeed exported 9884 MT of industrial oxygen, but the amount of medical oxygen exported was only 12 MT.
Majority of these industrial oxygen export was in December & January when medical oxygen consumption reduced to 1418 MT/day from 2675 MT/day in September. Against near 7000 MT/day capacity, this resulted in no threat to medical oxygen supply while protecting jobs in the oxygen industry.