Many Mumbaikars have now begun stocking up oxygen cylinders and concentrators at their home, as a precautionary measure. Panicked by the rapid surge in corona cases, many residents of housing societies have now started procuring cylinders in bulk from private suppliers.
Andheri resident Dhaval Shah, who is also founder and spokesperson of the Lokhandwala Andheri Citizens’ Association (LOCA), an apex body with more than 500 housing societies affiliated to it, said that last year, after the pandemic broke out there was a heavy demand for pulse oximeters and no-contact thermometers and this time, there is demand for oxygen cylinders.
“We have been getting calls from 20-25 society offices, seeking suppliers information and the regulations for operating cylinders and concentrators. By now, we can say that more than 100 societies in Andheri west and the Lokhandwala belt have their own cylinders and concentrators,” Dhaval told the Free Press Journal.
“Most large housing societies are buying their own cylinders and concentrators, while the smaller ones are getting new ones,” he added.
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Ashok Gupta vice-president Old Marine Drive Residents’ Association said, as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), he is working towards importing oxygen concentrators in Mumbai that could be further supplied to the needy patients. “Some corporate employees in our area and I are planning to get 1,000 concentrators from abroad so that we can supply them to those who actually need it,” Gupta told the FPJ.
Another Parel resident, requesting anonymity, said, the fact that there is a crisis everywhere has compelled most Mumbaikars to acquire O2 cylinders as a safety measure.
A city-based oxygen supplier and medical equipment dealer of have said that the average cost of an oxygen concentrator ranges from Rs 65,000-70,000 and can go up to Rs 2 lakh, while an oxygen cylinder costs Rs 8,000-10,000.
“Getting whiff of the heavy demand, suppliers have now started to corner stocks, so that they can sell products once there is a shortage in the market,” said the dealer, requesting anonymity.
“I know sellers who have sold concentrators for as high as Rs 2 lakh,” he added.
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He said there were different capacities of oxygen cylinders – five, ten and 12 litres and depending on the capacity, they could last anywhere from six to 24 hours. He also mentioned that a good oxygen concentrator has the ability to supply uninterrupted oxygen.
Arjun Dixit, a social worker who is helping people to get oxygen and plasma said, realising that there is a crisis, suppliers have now started to give cylinders only after checking patients’ SPO2 readings.
A senior civic official has said that the administration cannot restrict people from buying cylinders and concentrators as these products fall under the category of ‘essentials’.
“This is a matter of demand and supply, the concentrators fall under essential category and we cannot stop people from acquiring them,” said the official. “Rather, we can appeal to people to use the cylinders more sensibly and not panic, as right now, the civic body has adequate supply of oxygen,” he added.