Maha: Pawar urges sugar mills to produce oxygen to address shortage

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(Eds: Changing headline, updating copy) Mumbai/Pune, Apr 23 (PTI) In light of the current shortage of medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients in Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has urged sugar mills to focus on the production of the life-saving gas at their plants.

Pawar, who is the president of Pune-based Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), has conveyed his views to sugar cooperatives in a letter by director general of the institute Shivajirao Deshmukh on Thursday.

The NCP chief appealed to sugar mills, who had completed their crushing season, to use their premises to set up COVID-19 care centres and supply oxygen kits to patients.

'Considering the current situation of medical oxygen supply to hospitals, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has pointed out that sugar mills where the crushing season is still on and have power generation plants on their premises should focus on oxygen production,' Deshmukh stated in the letter.

Steam and energy are needed to set up an oxygen production plant and these two things are available when sugar mills are operational, it stated.

In the present scenario, where medical oxygen is needed for COVID-19 patients, it is imperative that sugar mills come forward and start oxygen generation on their premises by using available resources, manpower and invest capital if needed, it said.

Pawar said the COVID-19 situation was grim and the state and Central governments were trying its best to have adequate and sustained oxygen supply.

Meanwhile, a senior official from the state cooperative department said setting up an oxygen production plant will need investment and the actual production will take four to five months.

'Even if sugar mills think of setting up such plants, they will need at least four to five months for capacity building,' he said. PTI SPK MR ARU ARU