Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review the oxygen supply across the country and discuss ways and means to boost its availability. The officials briefed him on the efforts undertaken in the last few weeks to improve the supply of oxygen. The meeting took place amid a massive crisis of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) across the country, including Delhi, to treat critical coronavirus-infected patients, the number for which has grown exponentially over the past few days.
The PM directed the officials to ensure that oxygen supply to various states happen in a smooth, unhindered manner. He spoke about the need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction. He also asked ministries to explore other innovative ways to increase production and supply.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said Modi spoke about the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects — raising production and speed of distribution of oxygen and using innovative ways to provide support to health facilities.
The PM was informed that an elaborate exercise is underway in co-ordination with the states to identify their demand for oxygen and ensure adequate supply accordingly. He was also briefed on how oxygen supply to states is being increased steadily. Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT/day of LMO, the Centre started allocating 6,822 MT/day since Wednesday.
It was noted that in the last few days, availability of LMO has been increased by about 3,300 MT/day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries.
Officials also informed the PM that they are working together with the states to operationalise the sanctioned PSA oxygen plants as soon as possible.
Various measures are being undertaken to rapidly increase the availability of cyrogenic tankers through conversion of nitrogen and argon tankers, import and airlifting of tankers as well as manufacturing them.
It was discussed that Railways is being used for rapid and non-stop long distance transport of tankers. The first rake has reached from Mumbai to Vizag to transport 105 MT of LMO. Similarly, empty oxygen tankers are also being air-lifted to suppliers to reduce one-way journey time in oxygen supply.
Representatives from the medical community also spoke about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting the condition of patients. PM further stressed that the states should come down heavily on hoarding.
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Home Secretary, Health Secretary & Officials from Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Minstry of Road Transport, Pharmaceuticals, NiTi Aayog.