Railways allow transport of liquid medical oxygen after request from Maharashtra
The Indian Railways on Saturday moved to allow transportation of liquid medical oxygen in cryogenic tankers after the Maharashtra government’s request to meet the shortage of the gas used for Covid-19 patients in the state.
The move comes days after Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the Centre's support in addressing the shortage of oxygen in the state.
Drafting the policy for transport of liquid medical oxygen, the railways' ministry has approved the transportation under Roll-on-Roll off scheme and allowed the movement of oxygen to various destinations across states.
It said in a circular the staff accompanying liquid oxygen trucks to be loaded on the Ro-Ro service will be charged a second class ticket for the journey and only two people will be allowed to accompany the truck.
"The matter has been examined. The competent authority has approved the transport of liquid medical oxygen in cryogenic containers," the circular said, detailing the charges to be levied for the service.
The empty flow direction of the containers will also be charged by the railways. Additionally, free time of five hours will be given to the trucks at the time of loading and unloading.
Maharashtra, crippled by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, is facing a crisis with the medical and health infrastructure collapsing under the weight of rising cases and deaths.
With several states reporting a shortage of oxygen, the government on Friday directed them to ensure uninterrupted movement of medical oxygen carrying vehicles along their borders and said they must not impose any curb on production and supply of the essential public health commodity anywhere.
In a bid to save medical oxygen, Maharashtra's Covid-19 task force chairperson Dr Sanjay Oak has suggested that non-essential surgeries be postponed. He said the decision on this, however, would have to be taken at a local level as factors such as the patient's condition and medical urgency are paramount. Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases, there is a reported shortage of medical oxygen in some parts of the state.