Amid rising demand for medical oxygen as the number of Covid patients in Maharashtra and other states continue to soar, the Centre has stepped in to allay fears of shortage and organise additional supply.
The Centre said on Thursday, the current oxygen stock in the country, including industrial oxygen stocks at manufacturing plants is more than 50,000 metric tonnes (MTs). Along with ramped-up production by oxygen manufacturing units and the surplus stocks available, there is sufficient availability of oxygen at present. The Centre has noted that there is sufficient production capacity of around 7,127 MTs for oxygen in the country and as per need, the surplus oxygen available with steel plants is also being utilised.
Medical oxygen consumption in the country was 3,842 MTs, that is 54 per cent of the daily production capacity. The maximum consumption of medical oxygen in the country is by Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, followed by Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Rajasthan.
At the same time, the Centre has asked the states to make rational use of medical oxygen and ensure there is no wastage. It has instructed the states to set up control rooms to ensure smooth supply of oxygen to the districts as per need and review the requirement of cylinders and tankers.
The inter-ministerial Empowered Group 2 (EG2) headed by the Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, in a bid to ensure supply of medical oxygen, has allowed free inter-state movement of oxygen tankers without registration in the other states. Further, statewise mapping of cylinders has been done and industrial cylinders have been permitted to be used for medical oxygen after due purging.
As per EG2 decision, the stock availability from steel plants has increased in the last few days, with 14,000 MTs coming from stocks of the CPSUs' steel plants alone.
Mapping the requirements of top states with oxygen sources has helped Maharashtra to lift surplus medical oxygen on a daily basis from steel plants like JSW in-state Dolvi, SAIL in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh) and from JSW in Bellary (Karnataka). Similarly, Madhya Pradesh is able to supplement its oxygen supply from the steel plant in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh).
Orders have been given by the PESO (Petroleum and Safety Organisation) for conversion of argon and nitrogen tankers for use as oxygen tankers; thereby the fleet available for transportation has been enhanced.