As India continues to battle a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Union government has taken several steps to ensure increase in the availability of oxygen across the country, it said in a statement on Monday. The Centre has undertaken key measures, that focus on the entire oxygen supply chain, to increase the availability, streamline the distribution and strengthen the O2 storage infrastructure in the country.
The government is working towards enhancing oxygen availability by increasing its production, setting up of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants, importing Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) from abroad, and procuring O2 concentrators. The oxygen production in the country has increased from 5700 MT/day in August last year to 9,446 MT/day in May, 2021. The production capacity has increased from 6817 MT/ day to 7314 MT/day and the capacity utilisation has gone up from 84% to 129% during the same period.
For enhancing tanker availability to streamline transportation, the government has converted Nitrogen and Argon tankers to O2 tankers and containers have also been imported from overseas. Domestic manufacturing of tankers have also been increased, and rail and air transportation of tankers was being undertaken to reduce turn-around time.
The Centre utilised the PM-Cares fund to sanction procurement of 1 lakh Oxygen concentrators froom PSUs and several domestic manufacturers on April 27.
In order to the enhance oxygen production capacity, the government is setting up beds at jumbo hospitals with gaseous oxygen from refineries, power plants, and steel plants. The supply of oxygen for non-essential industrial purposes remains prohibited since April 22, resulting in 1,000 MT of additional oxygen availability.
The Ministry of External Affairs has been actively working towards importing 50,000 MT of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) from abroad, of which the delivery schedule for 5,800 MT has already been finalised. 2,285 MT of LMO was being imported from UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and France, a part of which has already been recveived.
During the second wave of the pandemic, the demand for oxygen icreased throughout the country. The government allocated oxygen supply to a few states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, etc on April 15, where Covid-19 cases were on a rise. The Health Ministry took into account several factors before allocating oxygen to the states including the active cases and the availability of hospital infrastructure including ICU beds in the states.