France sends oxygen generator plants to back India’s Covid response
A special cargo flight from France flew in 28 tonnes of medical equipment on Sunday to back India’s Covid-19 response, including eight high capacity oxygen generator plants to be deployed in hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Telangana.
This is the first phase of the solidarity mission launched by President Emmanuel Macron to support India as part of the European Union’s coordinated response to the Covid-19 crisis.
“The oxygen plants will be delivered to eight Indian hospitals, six in Delhi, one in Haryana and one in Telangana, based on needs as identified by the Indian authorities,” said a statement issued by the French embassy late on Saturday.
It could not immediately be ascertained which hospitals in Delhi were getting the oxygen plants.
The French support is meant not only to provide immediate medical relief from a crippling shortage of oxygen but also to boost India’s “strategic autonomy in healthcare” since each of the eight plants can supply a 250-bed hospital non-stop for a dozen years.
This provides enhanced resilience to peaks in oxygen demand and savings of up to ₹15 crore a year while eliminating safety issues related to liquid oxygen storage, the French embassy said.
The oxygen plants, sourced from the French company Novair, produce medical oxygen from ambient air to supply a hospital’s oxygen system or fill cylinders at a rate of 20,000 litres an hour.
“Mission accomplie! 1st phase of [France’s] solidarity mission landed this morning with 28 tons of ready-to-use support incl. 8 oxygen plants. More to come soon as we continue to stand together in this fight,” French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain tweeted.
Besides the oxygen plants, the flight carried 28 ventilators and 200 electric syringe pumps to be distributed to several hospitals to enhance their ICU capacities. The supplies brought in on the flight were worth more than ₹17 crore.
The equipment was handed over by the French side to the Indian government through the Indian Red Cross Society.
People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that the Indian side had identified the hospitals where the oxygen plants will be installed, in line with medical requirements and priority, to ensure that they can be utilised at the earliest.
“This will bring much needed relief in many key hospitals,” said one of the people cited above.
The French embassy’s statement also quoted Lenain as saying: “We stand by India in these difficult times, just as India has always stood by France. In spring 2020, when French hospitals were facing acute shortages, India provided lifesaving help through the export of critical medical drugs. The French people have not forgotten.”
The special cargo flight was chartered free of charge by the French shipping group CMA CGM, and many other French firms with a presence in India pooled their resources with the French government for the solidarity mission.
A second delivery of oxygen generators and medical equipment from France is underway, and French company Air Liquide will begin shipping several hundred tonnes of oxygen through a dedicated logistical bridge organised by the French and Indian governments and implemented with the Indian military.