In another case of mismanagement and technical errors, the Central government’s order on 25 April putting a ban on the use of oxygen for non-medical industries has led to a halt for the manufacturing of oxygen cylinders in the largest units in Gandhidham, Gujarat.
This comes at a time when India is grappling with a shortage of oxygen for medical use amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country each day.
The order had stated, “All stocks of liquid oxygen should be made available to the government for medical purposes. No exception is allowed to any industry with regard to use of liquid oxygen.”
The manufacturing units are included in the ban. Despite a Ministry of Home Affairs “clarification” on 27 April that liquid oxygen should be supplied to oxygen-cylinder manufacturers, the ban is yet to be lifted, Indian Express reported.
Representatives of the All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association (AIIGMA) said that over two-thirds of the country’s oxygen cylinders are manufactured in the units located in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Gandhidham, Kutch.
Oxygen Cylinder Manufacturing Units
AIIGMA president Saket Tiku was quoted as saying, “During the second wave of the COVID crisis, the demand of oxygen in the state of Gujarat has shot up between 1,200 and 1,500 metric tonnes (MT) a day. And the collective requirement of the cylinder plants in the state is minuscule in comparison. It is just 11 MT a day. This has been red-flagged at the highest level in the government but critical plants still remain shut.”
Due to this, several existing orders from the Central government, state governments, and hospitals have been untimely stuck for the past 10 days.
Sarang Gandhe, the Marketing Manager of Everest Kanto Cylinder Ltd, the largest cylinder manufacturer in the SEZ, highlighted that their plant has a production capacity of around 35,000 cylinders a month but they were being forced to cancel orders.
He added, “There are states like Odisha, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh that depend on us for cylinders but our plant is shuttered. The government is now importing oxygen cylinders at three or four times our rates,” Indian Express reported.
Reportedly, despite the MHA clarification regarding oxygen cylinder manufactures, state authorities, including Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not lifted the ban.
Rama Cylinders Private Limited, another cylinder plant, said they have a production capacity of 50,000 cylinders but had come to a halt due to this “technical delay.”
Amit Ramsinghani, Executive Director of the unit, was quoted as saying, “All we need is 3 MT of oxygen a day to run two cylinder plants. Hundreds of emails and frantic calls are coming but our plants are shut.”
(With inputs from The Indian Express)
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