With oxygen supply emerging as the biggest challenge in the destructive second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided that every district should now have its own oxygen plant in order to secure supplies. All districts will be getting such oxygen plants from the PM CARES Fund. Several hospitals in the national capital and other parts of the country have over the past week repeatedly either run out for some time or come close to running out of oxygen that can help patients with Covid-19 who need assistance with their breathing to stay alive.
Oxygen plants in every district to ensure adequate oxygen availability…An important decision that will boost oxygen availability to hospitals and help people across the nation. https://t.co/GnbtjyZzWT
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 25, 2021
“This shall go a long way in helping each district secure oxygen supplies. 162 such oxygen plants are already in process after sanction through PM CARES Fund and 551 more plants have now been sanctioned today through PM CARES Fund,” a senior government official told News18. The second wave of the pandemic has highlighted geographical challenges in transporting oxygen through the vast country with major demand for oxygen coming from the northern and western states while the oxygen plants with most supplies are located in southern and eastern India. The government brought in Indian Air Force aircraft and ‘oxygen trains’ to transport oxygen between the geographical zones in order to tide over the present crisis.
“The idea is that each district should have its own captive oxygen generation plant. This will mostly be in the government hospital in each district headquarters which will cater to the oxygen requirement of that district and act as a safety net. For most conditions, this plant would be able to cater to the oxygen needs of that district and can be topped up with additional supplies if required,” a senior government official told News18.
Work has been tardy on the 162 plants sanctioned in January from the PM CARES fund. The Prime Minister has now asked for the 551 new plants to be set up and made functional “as soon as possible”. Only 33 of the 162 plants sanctioned earlier have been installed so far while 59 more are expected to be installed by the end of this month and 80 more by May. “We hope that work on 551 new plants will now be done at a much faster speed than the earlier precedents given all states are now wiser by experience of what has happened under the second wave. The economics of scale will also help,” the official said.
The PM CARES Fund on Sunday gave an in-principle approval for allocation of funds for installation of 551 dedicated pressure swing adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants inside public health facilities in the country. “The PM has directed that these plants should be made functional as soon as possible. He said that these plants will serve as a major boost to oxygen availability at the district level,” the government said in a statement. Before this, on January 5 this year, the PM CARES Fund allocated Rs 201.58 crore for installation of 162 dedicated PSA medical oxygen generation plants inside public health facilities in the country in 32 states with total capacity of 154.19 MT. The government hospitals where these plants are to be installed have been identified in consultation with the states/UTs concerned, the government said in a statement.
The basic aim behind establishing these PSA plants at government hospitals in the district headquarters is to further strengthen the public health system and ensure that each of these hospitals has a captive oxygen generation facility, the government said on Sunday. “Such an in-house captive oxygen generation facility would address the day to day medical oxygen needs of these hospitals and the district. In addition, the liquid medical oxygen (LMO) would serve as a ‘top up’ to the captive oxygen generation. Such a system will go a long way in ensuring that government hospitals in the districts do not face sudden disruption of oxygen supplies and have access to adequate uninterrupted oxygen supply to manage the Covid-19 patients and other patients needing such support,” the government statement said. Having oxygen generation plants in government hospitals will also enable long-term systematic augmentation of medical oxygen availability in a cost-effective manner.
“Adequate and uninterrupted supply of oxygen is an essential pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of Covid-19, in addition to various other medical conditions where this need arises. Installation of PSA oxygen concentrator plants in public health facilities is an important step to reduce the health facility’s dependence on the system of store and supply and to enable these facilities to have their own oxygen generation capacity. This will not only increase the total oxygen availability pool of the states/UTs, but also facilitate providing of oxygen support in a timely manner to patients in these public health facilities,” the government had earlier said while sanctioning 162 such plants in January.