New Delhi: The government on Saturday waived off basic customs duty and health cess on imported oxygen and related equipment for three months, with immediate effect.

The announcement comes at a time the country is battling a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections. To step up production and availability and meet the rising demand of oxygen, the government has decided to grant full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of oxygen and related equipment for three months, an official statement said.

The items include medical grade oxygen, oxygen cannister, storage tanks, filling systems, containers, transport tanks, oxygen generators and ventilators with nasal canula.

Besides, it was decided that basic customs duty on import of Covid vaccines should also be waived off with immediate effect for three months, the statement said.

“This will boost availability of these items as well as make them cheaper. The Prime Minister directed the Revenue Department to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipment," the statement said.

The government has taken a lot of measures in the last few days to improve supply of oxygen and medical supplies, it said. Indian Air Force planes have picked up cryogenic oxygen tanks from Singapore and are also transporting oxygen tanks in the country to reduce travel time, the statement said.

India has currently more than 25 lakh active coronavirus cases and has so far reported more than 1,89,000 coronavirus-related deaths. The surge in infections has threatened expectations of a V-shaped economic recovery in FY22 that policy makers have been banking on after a likely contraction in gross domestic product in FY21.