Amid severe shortage of oxygen across the country, the first ‘Oxygen Express’ run by Indian Railways arrived in Maharashtra on Friday evening. Tankers filled with Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) are being transported by the Railways roll on-roll of (Ro-Ro) service in a bid to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Seven LMO tankers from Visakhapatnam steel plant in Andhra Pradesh arrived at Nagpur railway station at 8:10 PM. Three tankers were unloaded at Nagpur while the remaining will be unloaded at Nasik Road station on Saturday morning.
Speaking to reporters, Nagpur Additional Municipal Commissioner, Jalaj Sharma, said that a total of 45 MT of oxygen — three tankers with a capacity of 15 MT each — has been received.
Two ‘Oxygen Express’ trains with liquid medical oxygen tankers began their journey for Maharashtra (from Andhra Pradesh) and Uttar Pradesh (from Jharkhand) on Thursday night. The second ‘Oxygen Express’ was sent from Lucknow to Bokaro via Varanasi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for utilising the industry’s full potential to meet the demand of medical oxygen in the coming days, saying there is a need to increase the availability of oxygen cylinders as well as to upgrade logistical facilities for its transportation.
In a virtual meeting with leading oxygen manufacturers, Modi urged the industry to utilise tankers meant to transport other gases for oxygen supply, saying the time now is not only to deal with the challenges but also to provide solutions in a very short time.
The Delhi government had also requested the Railways to operate ‘Oxygen Express’ trains to save Covid-19 patients gasping for breath in the hospitals, Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma said on Friday. The Delhi government is the latest to have lined up for ‘Oxygen Express’ services, after Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Sharma said.
During PM Modi’s meeting with chief ministers of the states worst-hit by Covid-19, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the Centre to provide medical oxygen to the national capital.