Workers are seen sorting oxygen cylinders that are being used for Covid-19 coronavirus patients before dispatching them to hospitals at a facility on the outskirts of Amritsar on April 28, 2021. (AFP)
Workers are seen sorting oxygen cylinders that are being used for Covid-19 coronavirus patients before dispatching them to hospitals at a facility on the outskirts of Amritsar on April 28, 2021. (AFP)

Centre to buy 100k oxygen devices using PM Cares

Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed that these concentrators should be procured immediately and provided to the states which have the highest case burden in the country and are suffering from acute oxygen shortage.
By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 29, 2021 02:25 AM IST

The Union government on Wednesday announced the purchase of 100,000 portable oxygen concentrators and the development of 500 pressure swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, both funded by the PM Cares Fund, in an attempt to urgently boost medical oxygen supplies in the country which is gasping on account of the precious commodity in the midst of a raging second wave of the coronavirus disease in the country, with around three million active cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed that these concentrators should be procured immediately and provided to the states which have the highest case burden in the country and are suffering from acute oxygen shortage.

“1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators will be procured, 500 more PSA oxygen plants sanctioned from PM-CARES. This will improve access to oxygen, especially in district HQs and Tier-2 cities,” he tweeted.

The move comes even as the Union government and state governments face a backlash from people unable to find oxygen for their friends and relatives, and against the backdrop of several hospitals in some parts of the country warning of the calamitous consequences of running out of medical oxygen. In Delhi itself, over the past week, at least 45 seriously ill patients across two hospitals have lost their lives on account of this.

The 500 new PSA plants are planned in district headquarters and tier 2 towns according to a government statement, and will be “established with the transfer of the indigenous technology developed by DRDO and CSIR to the domestic manufacturers.”

It is in addition to 551 such plants previously announced on Sunday, and 162 announced last year. Of the 162, 33 have been installed, according to a report in Scroll. The health ministry has said that another 26 will be ready by the end of April and another 21 by the end of May.

No timeline has been provided for the development of the 500 and the 551 plants, although, in general, it takes between four and six weeks for such plants to be developed. The statement did not mention how much would be spent on the concentrators and the plants.

In addition, DRDO has also started work on oxygen generating plants in four government hospitals in Delhi -- AIIMS, RML, Lady Hardinge, and Safdarjung -- and hopes to complete them by May 10 , defence ministry officials familiar with the developments said . Another oxygen generating plant will be set up at AIIMS, Jhajjar.

DRDO has transferred oxygen generation technology to the industry, which has now stepped in to provide oxygen plants to state governments and hospitals. The technology transferred to the industry is based on the on-board oxygen generation technology developed for the Tejas light combat aircraft, according to the defence ministry. The oxygen generation plants can produce 1,000 litres of oxygen per minute.

DRDO has transferred technology to Tata Advanced Systems Limited, Bengaluru, and Trident Pneumatics Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore, which will be producing 380 of the 500 plants for installation across various hospitals, the defence ministry said in a statement. The remaining 120 plants will be installed by industry in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun, it added.

“Each oxygen plant is designed for a capacity of 1,000 litres per minute (LPM). The system can cater to 190 patients at a flow rate of 5 LPM and charge 195 cylinders per day…. Hospitals will be able to generate on-site medical oxygen in a cost-effective manner,” the ministry said. Together, the 500 plants can produce the equivalent of 960 MT of liquid oxygen in a day, significantly boosting the nation’s capacity.

The PM on Monday reviewed the military’s preparations to assist in Covid management. He was briefed by chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat . He also reviewed the operations undertaken by IAF to transport oxygen and other essentials. For more than a week, IAF has been ferrying empty cryogenic oxygen containers to filling centres in India from different domestic locations and even abroad.

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