Updated: September 13, 2020 10:34:11 am
The oxygen produced in Pune is enough to meet the district’s daily demand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Saturday.
“As of now, there is no shortage of medical oxygen for hospitals in Pune district. We are also catering to oxygen demand from hospitals in neighbouring districts, in western Maharashtra and Marathwada,” S V Pratapwar, assistant commissioner of FDA, told The Indian Express on Saturday.
An average of 350 metric tonne of oxygen for refilling cylinders, and 229 metric tonne liquid oxygen to fill tanks in big hospitals, is produced every day, said an FDA official.
Confirming that there is no shortage of medical oxygen for hospitals in Pune, District Civil Surgeon Dr Ashok Nandapurkar said, “Every day, hospitals in Pune collectively require 313 metric tonne of oxygen while an average of 350 metric tonne of oxygen is produced… there is a slight surplus.”
Once the new oxygen manufacturing plant in Chakan is functional, an additional 100 metric tonne of oxygen will be produced. “This will be a big relief for hospitals…,” said Pratapwar.
Sadashiv Survase, joint director of the Industries Department, said, “The Chakan plant, by a French company, is expected to start around October 9. It has a capacity of producing 200 metric tonne of oxygen. Initially, it will produce 100 metric tonne oxygen…”.
Pratapwar said though the demand, compared to August, has increased by 50 per cent in September, there has not been a situation so far when a hospital has demanded oxygen and the FDA has not been able to supply it. “If hospitals are likely to run out of medical oxygen, they convey us their demand a day in advance. Therefore, we are in a position to provide them required oxygen…,” Pratapwar said, adding that Pune gets between 50-80 metric tonne of oxygen from Raigad also.
The problem in Pune district was not about shortage of medical oxygen, but unavailability of tankers that transport oxygen to hospitals, he said. “…The tankers provide oxygen to the entire district and other districts. On some days… tanker arrival is delayed, which hinders timely delivery of oxygen to local hospitals,” said Pratapwar.
Nandapurkar added, “The problem is not about shortage but about supply chain disturbance. If tankers which carry oxygen to other districts are held up for some reasons and arrive late, then it creates a problem of distribution locally.”
However, the central government’s recent directive to ensure smooth movement of tankers has been helpful. “The government has directed that oxygen tankers should be allowed free movement. This has helped in quick movement of oxygen tankers from one district to another,” said Pratapwar.
FDA officials said the state government has made it clear that the administration in Pune should cater to oxygen needs of not only this district but also of neighbouring districts. “We can’t reserve required oxygen for Pune district and send the remaining to other districts. The government has made it mandatory for us to provide oxygen every day to other districts as well,” said Pratapwar.
Meanwhile, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday said every government hospital with 200 beds should have its own oxygen plant. “Either we will provide funds for setting up of the oxygen plant or funds can be made available by the respective district administration. But every 200-bed government hospital should have an oxygen plant of its own,” he said.
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