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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Centre has allocated 975 MT oxygen to Gujarat: Govt in HC

Chief secretary Anil Mukim has written to the central government that the state's demand was expected to rise to 1,500 MT thus making it “unviable” to support other states.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
April 27, 2021 1:11:39 am
A worker carry a refilled Oxygen cylinder to be loaded into a pickup van at an Oxygen production unit in Ahmedabad. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Even as several private hospitals in Gujarat have reported an oxygen shortage, an affidavit filed before the Gujarat High Court by Principal Health Secretary Jayanti Ravi on Monday states that the central government has allocated 975 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen to the state.

Chief secretary Anil Mukim has written to the central government that the state’’s demand was expected to rise to 1,500 MT thus making it “unviable” to support other states.

Gujarat on Monday reported 14,340 new cases and 158 deaths and as per the affidavit, 52,036 patients are on oxygen support. The total number of cases in the state has now crossed five lakh, adding nealy two lakh cases in April alone. As per the affidavit, the state government is keeping record of oxygen usage “of every patient… to minimise wastage”.

As per the affidavit filed on April 24, following directions from the HC hearing a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL), 1,000 MT of oxygen was consumed against the production of 1,000 MT.

On April 20, government pleader Manisha Shah had submitted before the court that against the state’s daily production of 1,100 metric tonnes (MT), the daily consumption for medical use stood at 1,050 MT as of April 19. The affidavit states that while consumption is 1,000 MT at present, “this consumption…is increasing day by day primarily due to fact that daily Covid cases are going up by 4-6 per cent. Besides, oxygen requirement for each patient also goes up…”

On April 16, the Gujarat government requested the Government of India to increase allocation. As per the affidavit, the state has seen a daily increase of 8-9 per cent of oxygen requirement on an average since April 1. Gujarat is also supplying oxygen daily to Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Daman.

In the communication of April 16 addressed to Guruprasad Mohapatra, secretary to government of India in department for promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Mukim stated, “A total of eight manufacturers are currently manufacturing 1,100 metric tonnes of medical oxygen in the state… However, the current Covid-19 situation has warranted an increase in the oxygen demand… Gujarat is also supplying around 100 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to neighbouring states. Looking at the current demand and supply forecast, the state will require approximately 1,500 metric tonnes of medical oxygen shortly, therefore, making it unviable to support other states… we request you to support us with the supply of extra medical oxygen…”

Of the country-wide allocation for oxygen by the Centre, Maharashtra tops the list with 1,661 MT, followed by Gujarat with 975 MT, Uttar Pradesh with 753 MT and Madhya Pradesh at 543 MT. Goa has been allocated a daily of 11 MT oxygen and Jammu and Kashmir another 12 MT.

As per the state government, suppliers directly supply oxygen to 61 hospitals and to 77 bottlers who in turn supply bottled oxygen. Three other hospitals have pressure swing absorption plants to make oxygen directly from air.

Addressing the issue of long ambulance wait faced by many citizens, it was submitted that 108 ambulance service is the “only modality through which a patient can get admission in Ahmedabad Corporation and government quota (beds) in private hospitals…”

It was submitted that in government hospitals, treatment is meted out to every patient, including during the waiting period at the hospital prior to admission. As per the state, it has also added a fleet of 50 ambulances and in the next three days, 150 more ambulances will be added. “This will definitely go a long way in reducing the time lag and the waiting period for patients to be admitted in hospitals.”

As per the state’s records, also mentioned in the affidavit, it has a total of 687 emergency ambulances across the state dealing with 3,544 emergency cases each day on an average. Each ambulance per day deals with around five emergency patients, with a an average response time of 48 minutes and another 38 minutes spent at the hospital, waiting.

Providing the testing data from April 1 to April 23, it was stated that of the 33.62 lakh tests conducted in the state, 13.14 lakh were RT-PCR tests, that is less than 40 per cent. The state has not seen any increase in its share of RT-PCR tests despite the ICMR recommending that at least 70 per cent of the total tests should be RT-PCR.

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