Covid-19: Punjab CM seeks uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen from Centre
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday sought immediate intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for ensuring uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen to the state.
He sought an additional allocation of 50 metric tonne of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) from a nearby source and 20 additional tankers (preferably conducive to rail travel) for timely evacuation of the life-saving gas from Bokaro.
The CM sent out separate letters to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister as the number of Covid-19 patients on varying levels of oxygen support in the state went up to 10,000.
Punjab is among the worst-affected states in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. On Monday, it had registered 157 deaths and 9,798 new infections.
Expressing deep concern over the "imminent loss of lives due to oxygen shortage" across the state, the CM said with mounting caseload, he was unable to increase level 2 and level 3 beds due to oxygen availability constraints.
The state was facing the prospect of shortage of oxygen beds, he said in an official statement here.
He pointed out that the government of India had expressed its inability to even allow Punjab's local industry to undertake commercial import of LMO from Pakistan through the Wagah-Attari border, which is geographically proximate.
Further, despite assurance that “adequate supply would be ensured to us from alternate sources, I regret to point out that this has not happened", said Singh.
The total allocation of LMO from outside the state is currently 195 metric tonne, of which 90 metric tonne is from Bokaro in eastern India.
The balance 105 metric tonne comes from LMO facilities in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
However, Punjab is not getting its daily allocated quota, said Singh.
The existing backlog for Punjab from these LMO facilities is 5.6 metric tonne from Panipat (Haryana), 100 metric tonne from Selaqui, Dehradun (Uttarakhand) and 10 metric tonne from Roorkee, he added.
He pointed out that Punjab had now been given to understand by the Centre that there would be likely disruption of LMO supply from Tuesday from Panipat and Barotiwala.
The CM said this would cause great stress on the already limited oxygen availability in the state, thus causing a medical emergency, including risk of loss of life for the large number of patients who are in critical condition and on regular oxygen support.
The disruption should be avoided, he said, adding that, if necessary, the state must be compensated immediately from a nearby additional source.
Referring to the "shortage of tankers", the CM said the state was airlifting two empty tankers daily to Ranchi, with the filled tankers returning by road from Bokaro on a 48-50 hour journey.
He said that the state government had already requested the government of India to allocate 20 additional tankers (conducive to rail travel) to allow for regular evacuation of 90 metric tonne LMO from Bokaro on a daily basis, but had been told that only two would be provided, and even those were yet to come.
He urged the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to step in immediately to help resolve the crisis.