With this, Maharashtra will have 117 manufacturers and re-fillers of oxygen, up from 73 until before the pandemic.
FDA officials said they have sped up the process of issuing license to increase the number of re-fillers across the state. Re-fillers, who provided oxygen to the industrial sector, have also been given permission to supply to hospitals.
Oxygen supply to industries, such as iron and steel, is currently limited to 20 per cent of the state’s production capacity at 1,177 metric tonne per day. The remaining 80 per cent is reserved for medical use.
Industry representatives met government officials on Tuesday to request for larger share in the supply of oxygen to run their units.
They requested that the supply be provided as per 70:30 or 60:40 ratio.
“The industry has reached out to the state, they are suffering and need a way forward,” said Saket Tiku, president of All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers’ Association.
Several iron and steel-cutting units have reduced their operations by half due to shortage of oxygen supply since August. With the state noticing a declining trend in fresh Covid-19 cases since a fortnight, the sector is hopeful of receiving more oxygen.
Maharashtra accounts for 21.7 per cent of India’s Covid-19 burden.
Since September last week, fresh cases have come down, so have new patients who require oxygen support. Around 10 to 15 per cent of actively infected patients are on oxygen support at present.
According to the FDA, hospitals across the state currently require 770 to 850 metric tonne of oxygen every day. “The state is considering changing the ratio to 80:20. As of now, there is no shortage of medical oxygen,” a health official said.
The state is also gradually resolving issues of transportation and storage to smoothen the supply chain. “At least 19 nitrogen and methane tankers have been diverted for oxygen use. This has expanded the transportation capacity,” said J B Mantri, Joint Commissioner (FDA).
Maharashtra has 116 cryogenic tankers to transport oxygen. At least 16 districts are in the process of setting up oxygen storage plants in civil or rural hospitals to reduce dependence on cylinders.
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