Surge in oxygen demand, trucks from Delhi make beeline for Panipat refinery
A rush for supply of medical oxygen can be seen at the distribution gate of Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) Panipat refinery as trucks laden with liquid oxygen are leaving for different hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab.
Police have been deployed at the main entrance of the refinery to monitor movement and double check gate passes of the trucks.
The security officials said 13 trucks, of different capacities, have left from the refinery to supply oxygen to hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab since Thursday morning.
Following a surge in demand, IOC has also increased its production and now it is supplying 140 MT oxygen to Delhi, 80 MT to Haryana, and 20 MT to Punjab.
Inspector Manjeet Singh, who is monitoring the truck movement, says, “We are examining the documents of every truck leaving with liquid oxygen and the oxygen is being supplied as per government orders.”
However, some truck drivers from Delhi alleged discrimination in allocation of oxygen.
Hira Lal, of Vaibhav Oxygen that supplies oxygen to many hospitals in Delhi, said that he had come on Wednesday but is yet to get the oxygen.
Another driver, Karan Singh, says his truck was called inside after a wait of 28 hours.
Mahender Singh, who is taking oxygen to Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said that this is his second turn in the past 24 hours and he has been allowed to take 5.5 tonne oxygen on Thursday.
Earlier, the joint director of Apollo Hospital, Dr Sangita Reddy, in a tweet had sought urgent help from PM Modi, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh, Union commerce and industries minister Piyush Goyal, saying that an oxygen tanker is waiting outside the gate of Air Liquide Panipat at IOC and the driver of the truck is not being allowed to get in.
“Haryana police are stopping the truck and not letting oxygen out of Haryana. Need urgent intervention!” Dr Reddy had tweeted.
But a few minutes later, she tweeted, “Update: The driver has been allowed inside and hopefully oxygen will be sent out soon.”
“Further to my earlier tweet an appeal once again to the govt to please tag oxygen tank as ambulances and enable quick green corridor movement,” she tweeted.
However, officials of Air Liquide Panipat said that they are supplying oxygen as per government schedule and do not have any role in deciding where the oxygen supplies should go first.
Earlier, officials the IOC, had said that they will be supplying 150 MT liquid oxygen (10 MT everyday) to Delhi, Haryana and Punjab free of cost.
But now, officials, requesting anonymity, said that if required, production and supply will be increased.
‘NO CLUE ABOUT MISSING OXYGEN TRUCK’
A tanker carrying liquid oxygen was allegedly stolen by unidentified persons.
As per FIR registered on complaint of district drug controller Vijay Raje against unknown accused, a truck had left Air Liquide, Panipat, to supply oxygen at Sirsa on Wednesday, but it did not reach till evening.
It was allegedly stolen by an unidentified accused on the way, police said.
Matlauda police station in-charge Manjeet Singh said, “A case has been registered under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against unknown persons and investigation is on.”
He said that security at Air Liquide has been increased and documents of all trucks are being examined before they leave.
This is the second such incident reported in state in the past two days. On Wednesday, Anil Vij had accused the Delhi government of looting oxygen truck on its way to supply oxygen in Faridabad.