Lack of trucks, road blockades hinder supply of oxygen

Published on Apr 22, 2021 02:25 AM IST

Delhi Police officers said that movement of oxygen tankers was hindered due to the blockade of the routes, but there were no complaints of any attempts by farmer groups to disallow the tankers.

At least one transporter and one hospital said vehicles were intercepted and supplies disrupted.
At least one transporter and one hospital said vehicles were intercepted and supplies disrupted.
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A lack of cryogenic trucks, interstate road blockades, and troubles faced by staff in reaching factories are making the shortage of medical oxygen worse, officials and company representatives said, detailing a wide variety of factors that has now brought the state governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana into a confrontation even as the Capital’s hospitals struggle to treat patients.

Suppliers, district officials, and police personnel have been scrambling to ease some of these bottlenecks; even as higher authorities accused counterparts in other states of deliberately holding up supplies and putting lives at risk.

“The Delhi government made frantic calls to at least a dozen transporters having cryogenic tankers and other such vehicles, but found little luck,” according to a person aware of the crisis, who asked not to be named.

Several hospitals and at least six transporters HT spoke to on Wednesday, too, said there was a major scramble for tankers in the Capital for transportation of oxygen. At least one transporter and one hospital said vehicles were intercepted and supplies disrupted.

“Yes, we did get a call from the Delhi government 3-4 days ago. But, by then Madhya Pradesh had already booked all our cryogenic tankers and they are operating in that state. The MP administration had intercepted our tankers that had left from Faridabad when it was on its way to be filled at Rourkela. Since then, it is with them and they are making the payments timely,” said KK Yadav, a transporter in Faridabad.

Max Healthcare Institute on Wednesday wrote to health minister Satyendar Jain saying the tanker scheduled to arrive at its facility in Shalimar Bagh was diverted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

“Yesterday night, the oxygen supply to the hospital was disrupted as an oxygen tanker from M/s Inox on its way to refill the oxygen tanks at Max hospital, Shalimar Bagh was diverted to AIIMS. This led to a situation where the hospital’s oxygen tanks ran dry. Thus, we had a critical situation at the hospital and had to manage the patients on oxygen cylinders... This seriously jeopardised the safety of the 250 Covid patients admitted under our care and can lead to a very serious situation,” read the letter written by the health care firm.

The crisis came into focus after one key hospital, GTB, received replenishments with mere minutes to spare on Tuesday night, and a similar crisis was averted at the last minute on Wednesday when vehicles from a Haryana-based company were let through to bring much-needed refills to four Delhi hospitals.

Officials at Inox Air Product limited, which supplies around 20% of the city’s oxygen requirement, said its trucks were taking 2-3 hours extra because of diversions owing to farmers’ protest at Ghazipur and Singhu borders.

“Our tankers, particularly those coming from Uttar Pradesh, are having to travel 10-15 kilometres extra to enter Delhi due to closure of the Ghazipur border. This may not be much for a car, but for heavy vehicles like ours, it can cause a delay of several hours due to speed and traffic constraints,” said an official of the company, asking not to be named.

Linde India Limited, another oxygen supplier to Delhi, said the company is optimising its production and supply according to the demand. “The delivery of medical oxygen from our Faridabad plant to hospitals outside Haryana was disrupted for about 4-5 hours on April 21, 2021 around midday, as a result of certain restrictions from the local government officials. The issue has since been resolved and delivery of medical oxygen to the affected hospitals has resumed,” it said in a statement.

Delhi Police officers said that movement of oxygen tankers was hindered due to the blockade of the routes, but there were no complaints of any attempts by farmer groups to disallow the tankers.

On Wednesday morning, Delhi Police escorted an oxygen tanker stranded at the Kundli Border, near Singhu. “The tanker was meant for Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi. We coordinated with Kundli Police to establish a green corridor to escort the tanker to Delhi in the next few minutes,” said Rajiv Ranjan, deputy commissioner of police (outer-north).

Siddharth Rastogi, executive director (sales) of MVS Engineering Pvt. Ltd, a manufacturer of medical oxygen production systems, said the company is also having to provide shelter to half its staff at its manufacturing plant in Okhla Industrial Area because the rest of the workers have not yet received their e-passes from Delhi’s district administrations.

“The problem we are experiencing in big cities is that because of this massive demand for oxygen, cities like Delhi are consuming oxygen at a rate of three times their usual consumption. This means that the demand-supply is skewed massively. Furthermore, the deliveries are getting affected due to many staffers of the oxygen supply companies getting affected by Covid,” said Rastogi.

Rastogi also said: “In many oxygen manufacturing companies that are doing bulk supply as liquid oxygen or in cylinders, there are cases where they also don’t have drivers to deliver”.

(With inputs from Shiv Sunny)

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on politics, urban development, transportation, energy and social welfare. Based in Delhi, she tracks government policies and suggests corrections based on public feedback and on-ground implementation through her reports. She has also covered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its inception.

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