Five Kashmir oxygen generation units diverted to Jammu - Hindustan Times
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Five Kashmir oxygen generation units diverted to Jammu

ByAshiq Hussain, Srinagar
May 17, 2021 01:42 AM IST

Supply order in Jammu got delayed, due to which pressure swing adsorption oxygen units had to be sent from Kashmir

As Jammu division has witnessed a surge in Covid-related deaths in the past three weeks, five oxygen plants meant for Kashmir hospitals have been diverted to Jammu.

Srinagar municipal corporation transforms a marriage hall into a 40-bed Covid care centre in Srinagar on Sunday. (ANI)
Srinagar municipal corporation transforms a marriage hall into a 40-bed Covid care centre in Srinagar on Sunday. (ANI)

Though Kashmir division is witnessing more coronavirus cases, the death toll for the past two weeks is less than that of Jammu’s.

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However, experts warn that diverting medical assets from one place to another could be a riskier proposition. The Valley has recorded 63% of the UT’s overall cases in the first half of May. Of the 64,300 cases from May 1 to 15, 40,900 are reported in Kashmir and 23,400 in Jammu. However, of 808 deaths, 520 have taken place in Jammu division.

Officials in the mechanical engineering department, the authority responsible to acquire these plants, said Kashmir and Jammu divisions were allotted 125 crore each to acquire 37 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen units for each division by March 31. Officials in Kashmir were able to acquire some of the units amid the surging coronavirus cases, while the supply order in Jammu got delayed till May 7 owing to failure of the commencement of the contract with their supplier, they added.

They said that despite the need of oxygen plants in Kashmir, three of the Valley’s 1,000 litres-per-minute (LPM) units have already been shifted to Jammu, while two more will be given to the division after they arrive here from Germany.

“Of the 37 oxygen plants required for Kashmir, we have so far acquired 20 units, but could only install 17 here as three were installed in Jammu,” said an official who didn’t wish to be named.

Nine PSA oxygen units are arriving — eight from Kashmir quota and one from Jammu quota — within a day or two. While seven will be air lifted, two are following the normal transportation procedures.

“Although Jammu people are in urgent need of these plants right now, we too desperately need all of these 37 plants to save lives here,” he added.

Of the five units, which have been diverted, two were meant for Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital and Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital, while one was for Anantnag and two for Baramulla.

Sources said it was decided to now fill up the deficit in the Valley by internally diverting oxygen plants of those districts which are not burdened by caseload.

“Oxygen plants meant for Shopian and Bandipora districts will be now installed at two of the above places,” he said.

Mechanical engineering department’s chief engineer Abdul Rashid Dar admitted that they have shifted a few plants to Jammu. “Only two plants of 1000 LPM capacity have been diverted. Their contract had failed. We had secured our contract on time, so we are placing orders for six plants from here for Jammu for now,” he added.

He said that of the 37 PSA oxygen generation units ordered for Kashmir, 34 were from Germany while three were to be acquired from an American company.

“We have already acquired 20 and seven more are being airlifted,” he said.

“When all these oxygen plants will be set up, we will be sufficient in gaseous oxygen as we can’t rely on liquid medical oxygen owing to our road blockades for months during winter,” he added.

The chief engineer said they will be replacing the plants which were shifted to Jammu back to the Valley after 45 days.

Bodh Raj, executive engineer of mechanical hospital and central heating at Jammu division, said they have already installed 14 oxygen plants in various hospitals of Jammu.

“Kashmir managed to get them before us, so the authorities thought about distributing the oxygen plants. Lives have to be saved. Every hour matters,” Raj said.

He said the orders for other plants in Jammu have also been placed and they will arrive soon. Two more plants from Kashmir will most probably go to other district hospitals,” he added.

He said that the daily oxygen requirement at Jammu GMC was 21 tonnes and it was sufficiently being supplied there. He said that no patient had died of the oxygen shortage in Jammu division.

Doctors Association Kashmir president and influenza expert Nisar ul Haasan said that Jammu and Kashmir are part of the same region, but “siphoning off” the infrastructure of one place for another was unacceptable.

“Without going into regional factors, we need to see scientifically where the need is more. And obviously, areas with more cases take priority. Diverting our infrastructure is a cause of concern. We don’t know how the virus will behave. We need more oxygen, more ventilators and more ICU beds because we can’t get them at the time of emergency,” he added.

He said that the hospitals in Kashmir are full to capacity and those needing oxygen at home are being aided by NGOs. “We need to keep things ready for any eventuality and shifting the life-saving gadgetry is unacceptable,” Haasan said.

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