PM Modi reviews medical grade oxygen supply amid surging Covid cases
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday reviewed the supply of medical grade oxygen in the country amid surging Covid cases. Various ministries, such as health, steel, and transport shared their inputs with the Prime Minister who stressed the importance of ensuring synergy among various ministries and departments of the government.
Modi also took a comprehensive review of the current situation of oxygen supply and the projected use in the coming fortnight across 12 high burden states – Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. An overview of the district-level situation in these states was also presented to the Prime Minister.
The review comes in the wake of the second Covid wave in the country with local media reporting that people are losing their lives due to a shortage of oxygen and hospital beds. On Thursday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the government and alleged that hospitals lacked oxygen, beds and ventilators.
The Prime Minister was briefed about the country’s production capacity to meet the rising demand for oxygen. He has asked the oxygen units to increase their production.
The PM urged officials to ensure seamless and free movement of oxygen tankers across the country. The government has exempted all interstate movement of oxygen tankers from registration of permits to enable easier movement. He was informed that states and transporters have been asked to ensure tankers move round the clock with drivers working in shifts to ensure faster turnaround and adequate capacity to meet the surge in demand.
Cylinder filling plants will also be permitted 24-hour working with necessary safeguards. The government is allowing Industrial cylinders to be used for medical oxygen after due purging. Similarly, nitrogen and argon tankers will be automatically allowed to be converted to oxygen tankers to offset the potential shortage of tankers.
In a bid to provide an inexhaustible supply of oxygen to hospitals, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), Dehradun, has also developed oxygen enrichment units that can generate up to 500 litres of medical grade oxygen per minute.