Mumbai: The Maharashtra Government registered a strong protest on Thursday after the Centre reduced by 50 metric tonnes (MTs) the supply of liquid medical oxygen being supplied to the state from Karnataka. Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said as a result of the cut, the supply to Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur and a couple of other districts in western Maharashtra would be majorly affected.
The Centre’s move came days after the state government had urged it to provide additional 200MTs of oxygen to cope with rising demand.
Tope told The Free Press Journal, “It is not right on the part of the Central government to stop the supply of 50 MTs of oxygen. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take up the matter with the Centre but until then, the state will have to make alternative arrangements so that districts mainly from western Maharashtra are compensated. The state now needs 1,750MTs of oxygen daily. I’ll appeal to the Centre. There has been a shortage of oxygen supply for two days now.”
“It will have a severe impact on the ongoing treatment of
Covid-19 patients in Maharashtra. It is necessary to raise the issue with the Union health ministry and other officials concerned. We will have to get more oxygen from the Centre in this period,” he said.
Tope said, as per the Chief Minister’s directive, the government has been working 24x7 to ensure the availability of 3,000 MTs of oxygen daily, preparatory to the anticipated third wave. “The state government is setting up pressure swing adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen plants to increase the production of the life-saving gas used in treatment of serious coronavirus patients. Already, 38 PSA plants have been commissioned, which can produce 53MTs per day. The state has given orders for 150 PSA plants to begin operations in the coming days,” he noted.
Tope said the state government had proposed to set up 350 such plants in all, to generate 500MTs of oxygen. He further noted that the state was currently consuming 1,750 MTs of (medical) oxygen. “Liquid medical oxygen is among the key tools needed to deal with the pandemic,” he said.
A fortnight ago, 22 Covid patients died in a civic hospital in Nashik after oxygen supply to them was disrupted because of a leakage in the overhead storage tank.
Tope further claimed that the department of pharmaceuticals was not expediting approvals for various essential items that the Maharashtra government had ordered from abroad, resulting in delays.