IAF airlifts empty O2 containers to filling stations across India

New Delhi

The Indian Air Force on Friday airlifted empty oxygen containers to various filling stations across the country and deployed its aircraft for transportation of medical personnel and medicines in helping civil authorities deal with surging COVID-19 cases. The IAF deployed its C-17 and IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft for transportation of oxygen containers to filling stations, officials said.

The oxygen containers will be transported by road or rail to various hospitals once they are refilled, they said. Containers filled with oxygen are generally not transported on board military aircraft as they are considered combustible and may pose risk to the planes.

“C-17 and IL-76 aircraft airlifted cryogenic oxygen containers from Air Force Station Hindan to Panagarh for recharging, in support of the fight against Covid-19. Similar airlift tasks are underway across the country," the IAF tweeted. Officials said the IAF has also deployed its aircraft for transportation of medical personnel and medicines to various places across the country as part of its Covid-19 response.

Earlier, amid several states flagging scarcity of medical oxygen in the Covid-19 fight, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said Railways and Air Force are being deployed to reduce the transportation time for oxygen tankers and all state governments need to work together to meet requirements of life-saving gas and medicines.

The PM chaired a meeting on the Covid-19 situation with the chief ministers of 11 high burden states as also with the leading oxygen manufacturers across the country via the video conferencing.

The PMO said Modi asked the CMs to ensure safety of hospitals and create awareness to alleviate panic purchasing. He also wanted them to curb hoarding and blackmarketing of oxygen and medicines. Taking notes of the points raised by the states, the PM assured them continuous efforts are being made to increase oxygen while diverting industrial oxygen to meet the immediate requirements in hospitals.

In his meeting with the oxygen manufacturers, Modi asked them to transport oxygen using the tankers meant for other gases. Those who participated in the meeting included Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Soma Mandal of SAIL, Sajjan and Naveen Jindal, Narendran of Tata Steel, Dilip Oommen, M Banerjee, Sidharth Jain of Inox, Noriyo Shibuya of Air Water, Jamshedpur, Rajesh Kumar Saraf and Saket Tiku, president of All India Industrial Gases Manufacturer's Association. Chairing a high-level meeting with chief ministers of 11 states and UTs, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Delhi, MP Chhattisgarh and UP with maximum cases, Modi urged states to work as one and coordinate with one another to fulfil medical requirements, asserting, “if we work as one nation, there will not be any scarcity of resources.”

Modi said every state should ensure no oxygen tanker, irrespective of its destination, is stopped or gets stranded, a statement said.

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