The Maharashtra government, in the wake of the rise in oxygen demand amidst the increase in COVID-19 cases, finally took the decision to divert 100% of its supply for medical use. The decision was announced by Food and Drug Administration Minister Dr Rajendra Shingane.
Dr Shingane said, “The rise in cases has led to a rise in oxygen demand. There are 31 oxygen producers, of which about 7 to 8 are leading ones. The daily oxygen production is 1,237 metric tonnes. On the other hand, there are only 71 refillers to refill oxygen cylinders. The government is sourcing oxygen from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. Therefore, on Friday, it decided to divert the entire oxygen supply for medical purposes. This is to avoid any shortage.” He added that the government is committed to ensure adequate oxygen supply to the patients.
The minister said 871 metric tonnes of oxygen was supplied on Thursday. Dr Shingane, on Monday, had met oxygen suppliers and asked them to further ramp up the production. He had also hinted at a punitive action against those indulged in the black marketing.
Dr Shingane’s announcement came days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray last week had said that 100% oxygen will be reserved for medical use. Earlier, the government had announced 80% oxygen supply for medical use and 20% for industrial use. Thackeray had thanked the JSW Group for organising the oxygen supply from its plant situated in the Raigad district.
The government’s move is important as 58,993 new COVID-19 positive cases and 301 deaths were reported on Friday in the state. Meanwhile, JSW Group CMD Sajjan Jindal in a tweet said, “COVID-19 has started spreading again and we need oxygen to save lives. Oxygen is a raw material in steel plants and, at this crucial time, we have committed to the government to prioritise saving lives over making steel.”