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Covid-19: Adequate Supply of Oxygen in Next Couple of Weeks, Says INOX Air Products

Workers refill cylinders with medical oxygen for supply for Covid-19 patients. (PTI)

Workers refill cylinders with medical oxygen for supply for Covid-19 patients. (PTI)

Oxygen producers have been running their plants round the clock and have increased production by 120% capacity.

India’s largest manufacturer of industrial and medical gases INOX Air Products on Tuesday said in the next couple of weeks there will be adequate supply of oxygen across the nation with production capacity and transportation issues being sorted out.

According to INOX Air Products Director Siddharth Jain, an empowered group formed by the Centre for oxygen allocation in April last year had actually made estimations very close to quantum of medical oxygen being consumed at present but did not go into micro planning of state wise demand as it was done at a macro level of countrywide demand.

"India’s manufacturing capacity at present is 9,200 tonnes a day. To the best of my estimates, the last consumption number for medical oxygen was 7,500 (tonnes a day), so we certainly have enough oxygen currently," Jain said in a virtual conference with reporters.

Oxygen producers have been running their plants round the clock and have increased production by "120 per cent capacity for months together", he said adding "the total manufacturing capacity of India in one month has gone from 7,200 tonnes a day up to 9,200 tonnes a day".

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On the supply side also logistics issues are being sorted out with the number of cryogenic tankers being doubled from 1,200 along with imports of a further 40 odd tankers.

Asked by when there would be adequate oxygen supply nationally, he said, "I am almost certain that in the next couple of weeks…" Explaining further, Jain said, "…because every tool that was available with the government has now been used. Planes, trains, ships, automobiles, every tool that they had, has been used. Look at the number of concentrators that have been imported to the country. Each concentrator is going into these hospitals and hopefully will reduce the amount of liquid oxygen required." On the situation in Delhi, he said there was adequate supply allocation but the state could not procure it.

"The Centre maps all the oxygen manufacturing plants across India and allocates. The job of going and getting oxygen from the plant is up to the state to talk to the plant. It wasn’t the job of the Centre to actually sit and pick up and give the product to each state," Jain said.

This problem that Delhi has been facing has been faced by every other state, he said adding, "but no other state is in court other than Delhi and there are many states like Punjab and Madhya Pradesh and a few others, which don’t have any manufacturing capacity like Delhi." He said the Centre had formed an empowered group one year ago, with "full foresight for allocation of oxygen" from all manufacturing plants on one side to all the states across India on the other side.

"When this group first met in April of last year, their estimation were far greater in terms of the key metric in COVID (active cases) in any given point of time…During the original estimates back in April, the government had actually made scenarios with the kind of active cases we are facing today. And they had actually made estimations very close to the number that we are consuming today in medical oxygen," Jain said.

When asked if the current crisis is due to lack of planning for execution, he said, "It was done at a macro level, what is the production capacity, do we have the ability to move the product, and the answer for all of the above was yes we had it and we still have it." Jain further said, "I don’t think we went into micro planning of state wise demand. It was done at a macro level of countrywide demand.

If Jhansi in UP, what is going to be the requirement there or in Gwalior, certainly that wasn’t done. I think it is too much to expect for that to happen." He also admitted that people in the industry "never believed" in the empowered panel’s estimation "because we said you go based on empirical evidence of other nations. When 180 countries are facing the same problem and you see what they have gone through, none of them had any issues with consumption of oxygen. Nowhere else the consumption of oxygen jumped 10x. It has never happened so why would you assume it is going to happen to us."

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first published:May 04, 2021, 22:24 IST