Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Sunday that Maharashtra, which is the worst state affected by COVID-19, will get the biggest share of 1,500 metric tonnes of oxygen after mapping done by the Centre and a green corridor is being created for fast movement of 'Oxygen Express Trains' to facilitate the smooth transport of oxygen to states.
Goyal told ANI in an interview that the government has taken key decisions for increasing the supply of medical oxygen in view of increasing cases of COVID-19 which include limiting industrial oxygen to nine industries. He said the central government did mapping in a meeting with governments of 12 states and union territories most affected by COVID-19 and 6,177 metric tonnes of oxygen will be given to these states.
The minister said the government is working with states shoulder to shoulder and urged them to take steps against wastage of medical oxygen."We are witnessing an unprecedented crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic. In some states, the cases can be seen going beyond control, like Maharashtra Delhi, and some other states," he said.
He said that different ministries and departments of the central government are having elaborate meetings every two days with 12 states and mapping was done to identify which plant will supply oxygen to which place according to the requirement of different states "without any discrimination".
"Today in a meeting with 12 states, Central government did mapping along with state governments on various requirements. 6177 metric tonnes of oxygen have been finalized to be distributed to states. Of this Maharashtra will get the biggest share of 1,500 metric tonnes of oxygen, Delhi will get 350 metric tonnes and Uttar Pradesh will get 800 metric tonnes," the Union Minister said.
Goyal, who is also Railway Minister, said the states should take steps towards demand control and medical oxygen should be given to needy patients only.
"We are working with the shoulder of the state to shoulder. I request that you (states) have to make efforts towards demand control from your side and it will also be important to take steps for control of pandemic. The patient should be given as much oxygen as is necessary. Reports of wastage are coming from various places and there are reports that oxygen is being given when a patient does not need it" he said.
Goyal said the Centre is in constant dialogue with states and is regularly monitoring all their requirements needed to deal with the pandemic."You would be surprised to know that before the pandemic, the daily consumption of medical oxygen was around 1000-1200 tonnes. The consumption has increased and on April 15 the daily consumption was 4,795 metric tonnes," he added.
The Minister said the government has increased the availability of medical oxygen five times in the past year.
"India has a capacity of producing 7,157 metric tonne oxygen and around 60-70 per cent of it is being given to states as medical oxygen currently. We are also doing production at 110 per cent of our capacity and on April 15, 7846 metric tonne was produced, out of which 4795 MT was used as medical oxygen," said Goyal, who is also Minister of Railways.
The Minister also informed that to ensure an adequate supply of oxygen to hospitals, the government has decided to stop the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except for nine sectors, from April 22.
"Except for nine sectors that are essential, supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers will be prohibited from April 22 as a temporary measure. This has been done to ensure adequate supply of oxygen to hospitals," he said and urged the state to do "rational use" of oxygen.
Goyal noted that the Centre is creating a green corridor for fast movement of 'Oxygen Express Trains' to facilities for the smooth transport of oxygen to states.
"A decision has been taken to start transportation of oxygen cylinders or tankers in trains. The transportation of cylinders has already started. Green corridors will be introduced to ensure a fast supply of oxygen where these trains can reach their destination at a high speed.
For the transportation of liquid oxygen, military wagons will be used to transport 3.3 meter high tankers. These trains will not be stopped so that they can reach their destination at a fast speed." he said.