With a massive surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, various states have been reporting a shortage of medical oxygen. Delhi too joined the growing list of states struggling to provide adequate oxygen to the Covid patients.
“In view of sharply increasing cases, Delhi needs much more than normal supply. Rather than increasing supply, our normal supply has been sharply reduced and Delhi’s quota has been diverted to other states,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted. He further wrote that “oxygen has become an emergency in Delhi.”
He had earlier pointed out that Delhi has been facing acute shortage of oxygen.
Kejriwal addressed the issue in two separate letters sent to the Prime Minister and the Commerce Minister, Piyush Goyal.
“State governments should keep demand (for medical oxygen) under control. Demand-side management is as important as supply-side management,” Piyush Goyal was quoted saying to ANI.
Goyal pointed out that containing the spread of Covid is the responsibility of the state governments.
“We are with the state governments but they need to manage the demand and take concrete steps to contain the spread,” he said.
The Centre announced measures like setting up more oxygen plants and starting “oxygen express”- trains to carry tankers through special corridors.
“Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra state governments had approached the Ministry of Railways to explore whether Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) tankers could be moved by Railways. Railways immediately explored the technical feasibility of transportation of LMO. LMO has to be transported through Roll On Roll Off (RO-RO) service with road tankers placed on flat wagons,” the Rail Ministry said.
Meanwhile, manufacturers and suppliers are prohibited to supply oxygen for industrial purposes from April 22.
“While every effort is being made to meet the rising demand for medical oxygen, including augmenting daily production and stocks, and states are taking appropriate steps for optimum and rationalised utilisation of available stock of oxygen, the present trend necessitates additional measures,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told states.
He further added that the prohibition will not apply to nine industries: ampoules and vials, pharmaceuticals, petroleum refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, oxygen cylinder manufacturers, wastewater treatment plants, food and water purification, and process industries that require uninterrupted operation of furnaces.
“The Covid situation in Delhi is extremely serious. There is a shortage of beds and oxygen… We need your help… We are also facing an extreme shortage of oxygen. It should be provided to us immediately,” Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the Prime Minister.
In a letter to Piyush Goyal, Kejriwal has appealed for an uninterrupted daily-supply of 700 MT of oxygen.
The daily oxygen requirement in Maharashtra is 1,200-1,300 MT against maximum production of 1,250 MT. It is receiving additional oxygen, upto 150 MT from Gujarat and 50 MT from Chhattisgarh. The state has also been utilising medical oxygen from steel plants like JSW in Dolvi (Maharashtra), SAIL in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), and JSW in Bellary (Karnataka).
Madhya Pradesh is supplementing its oxygen supply from Bhilai plant.
In Uttar Pradesh, hospitals have been directed to maintain a minimum of 36 hours of oxygen supply as back-up.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has directed the Director General (Medical Education) to provide oxygen cylinders in institutions where there are no ICU beds due to lack of oxygen. The state is expected to set up ten oxygen plants in the upcoming times.
Jharkhand has a total of 3,802 oxygen-supported beds of which 2,024 have already been occupied.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that there was a “slight problem” with oxygen which “has been remedied”. The state’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane thanked KK Shailaja, Health Minister of Kerela, for helping transport 20,000 liters of liquid oxygen to Goa.
“As of now, we do not have any oxygen shortage but it will be required in the coming days, considering the pace at which cases are surging,” Principal Secretary of Health Husan Lal said.
In Bengaluru – 96% of the 291 ICU ventilator beds were full as of Sunday, while 84% of the 2,673 oxygenated HDU beds and 95% of the 342 ICU beds across 17 government hospitals and 69 private hospitals were completely occupied.