Fertiliser minister asks urea makers to set up oxygen plants

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) Union Fertiliser Minister D V Sadananda Gowda on Monday urged urea manufacturers to set up medical oxygen plants at their premises to ramp up the supply of the gas amid surging cases of COVID-19 in the country.

The minister also hailed cooperative major IFFCO for dedicating four of its plants for the production of medical oxygen.

There have been reports of shortage of medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients in different parts of the country in the last few days due to an exponential rise in coronavirus cases. The Centre on Monday had also called a meeting of chief secretaries and senior officials of 10 states and Delhi to discuss the issue of medical oxygen.

Gowda in a series of tweets said that the government is taking all measures to ramp up production and availability of medical oxygen.

Cooperative fertiliser major IFFCO on Monday said it will set up four medical oxygen plants with an investment of about Rs 30 crore in the next 15 days in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Odisha, in a bid to supply it for free to hospitals.

'Kudos to @IFFCO_PRfor dedicating their four plants for production of medical oxygen. I request other urea units to kindly follow the suit wherever possible...,' Gowda said in his tweets.

The minister urged other urea companies to follow the suit of IFFCO and set up oxygen plants wherever possible, and stated that this is a time to fight the pandemic together and with full strength.

Gowda said that IFFCO's oxygen plant at Kalol will produce 33,000 litre of medical-grade oxygen per day. 'Company plans to set up 3 more oxy plants @ Aonla, Phulpur & Paradeep. I congratulate IFFCO for quick thinking & action in fight against #covid19,' the minister added.

'IFFCO will give free oxygen to hospitals, each cylinder of 46.7 litres,' IFFCO Managing Director and CEO U S Awasthi has said.

Awasthi has also said that IFFCO will fill up the oxygen cylinders free of cost for hospitals, but they need to bring their own cylinders for refill. A security deposit will be taken if cylinders taken from IFFCO to avoid hoarding of oxygen.

In view of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, there is huge demand for oxygen for effective clinical treatment of COVID-19 patients. The government has already banned supply of oxygen to industrial units, except in nine specified categories. PTI LUX MR