Oxygen Express with 4 tankers heads to Delhi
- Suneet Sharma, chairman of the railway board, said at a press conference on Sunday that so far, the Indian Railways has transported 10 tankers carrying around 150 metric tonne of oxygen.
The first ‘Oxygen Express’ train for Delhi, with four cryogenic tankers carrying liquid medical oxygen (LMO), is scheduled to depart from Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) steel plant in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh on Sunday night, said officials from the railway ministry aware of the development.
“One Oxygen Express train carrying four tankers (around 70 metric tonnes of LMO) will depart tonight for Delhi Cantonment from JSPL, Raigarh,” said a spokesperson from the railway ministry.
Suneet Sharma, chairman of the railway board, said at a press conference on Sunday that so far, the Indian Railways has transported 10 tankers carrying around 150 metric tonne of oxygen.
“Indian Railways is going to deliver more than 140 MT liquid oxygen in next 24 hrs. Currently, nine tankers are already on the run, out of which five will reach Lucknow by tonight (Sunday) and remaining four containers of LMO, which have already started from Bokaro, are expected to reach Lucknow tomorrow (Monday),” read a statement from the railway ministry.
The ministry has also asked the Delhi government to obtain more cryogenic tankers. The Railways is also ready to transport oxygen containers on container wagons from Durgapur to Delhi, said officials from the ministry.
The move comes at a time when hospitals in Delhi are struggling with an acute shortage of oxygen for the sixth consecutive day, with some even turning away Covid-19 patients. On Saturday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote an urgent SOS to heads of other states, requesting them to send whatever surplus oxygen and tankers they can spare for the national capital.
While Delhi’s daily oxygen allocation is 480MT, Kejriwal has said the city currently requires about 700MT of oxygen. The national capital has been reporting nearly 25,000 or more Covid-19 cases every day for the past one week.
According to a statement by his office, Kejriwal on Sunday wrote to some prominent industrialists, who were not named in the statement, seeking their help in combating the ferocious second Covid-19 wave in the country. CM Kejriwal said that he would be grateful if the leading industrialists, involved in using or producing oxygen and can help with transporting oxygen in cryogenic tankers, come to Delhi’s assistance in its time of need.
According to the statement, CM Kejriwal wrote that while the central government is helping Delhi in this regard, the intensity of the spread is so severe that the quantity is proving inadequate.
As many as 350 people died of Covid-19 on Sunday, according to the Delhi government’s bulletin. The city also reported 22,933 fresh cases of the infection.
Plagued by the acute shortage of oxygen due to a significant rise in Covid-19 cases, more states are seeking the railways’ assistance for delivering LMO via the ‘Oxygen Express’ trains. The national carrier has planned more Oxygen Express trains to Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Delhi and MP in the coming weeks.
The first Oxygen Express train departed from Mumbai to Vizag on April 19. Four such trains have also made round trips from Lucknow to Bokaro from April 22 to 24, said railway officials, adding that so far, around 10 oxygen tankers (each having a capacity of 15-16MT) filled with LMO have been transported in these trains.
Last week, the Indian railways decided to deploy first-of-a-kind ‘Oxygen Express’ trains to transport LMO and oxygen cylinders in bulk along key corridors, amid high demand from states grappling with the second wave of Covid-19.
With several states reporting a shortage of oxygen, the government last week directed them to ensure uninterrupted movement of vehicles carrying medical oxygen along their borders and said they must not impose any curbs on production and supply of essential commodities of public health.
A meeting was held between Railway Board officials and state transport commissioners and representatives of the industry on April 17 on issues related to the transportation of liquid medical oxygen.
Last week, the railway ministry also approved the transportation of liquid medical oxygen in cryogenic tankers under its ‘roll on-roll off’ model as a special case following a request from the Maharashtra government.