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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Concentrators, generators, funds: Uttar Pradesh lays out an oxygen plan

Uttar Pradesh currently has operational oxygen generation plants in 13 districts. Work is on to establish the same in all the 75 districts, apart from providing oxygen generators at CHCs with over 50 beds.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
Updated: May 14, 2021 7:45:11 am
Covid-19 UP, UP oxygen crisis, UP hospitals Covid-19 oxygen, Covid-19 UP, UP Covid-19 news, Covid-19 news UP, indian expressRefilling oxygen tanker at KGMU, Lucknow, on Thursday. (PTI)

Having faced acute shortage of medical oxygen as patient numbers soared under the second Covid-19 wave, with relatives putting out SOS requests and long lines outside oxygen refilling centres, Uttar Pradesh now claims to have ramped up availability to 1,000 MT (metric tonnes) per day from 250 MT, and to have reserves of two days at government medical colleges across the state.

As cases are increasingly reported from rural areas, with poorer infrastructure, the state has announced that community health centres (CHCs) and primary health centres will be provided oxygen concentrators, till oxygen generation plants, to be set up across the state, are ready, and tasked five major departments with overseeing oxygen supply. A 24X7 control room at the Home Department now monitors trucks ferrying oxygen to the state from different parts of the country.

An “oxygen grid” covering the state from Saharanpur in the west to Deoria on the east is being put in place by the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Authority (UPSIDA). Oxygen production units would be established along this grid at UPSIDA sites. The UPSIDA says it has already received proposals from some companies.

Uttar Pradesh currently has operational oxygen generation plants in 13 districts. Work is on to establish the same in all the 75 districts, apart from providing oxygen generators at CHCs with over 50 beds. The Sugarcane and Excise Department is overseeing provision of generators at the CHCs. Sources said orders had been issued for purchase of 54 oxygen generators.

Apart from this, construction is on for 19 oxygen plants at government medical colleges — with three of them, at Lucknow, Jalaun and Kannauj, expected to be operational by end of May or June first week.

Of the existing plants, nine of 10 run by the Medical, Health and Family Welfare Department are operational, as per May 12 data. The one in Ghaziabad is under repair.

Under PM-CARES funds, the department is to get 45 oxygen plants in two phases — of which one is already operational in Lucknow. Sources said construction has started at 13 sites, and will begin soon at another two.

Along with this, the department has been asked to divert the already established ethanol plants in the state for manufacture of medical oxygen. Sources said that 15 ethanol plants with the capacity to supply 300 MT of oxygen per day had been identified.

PSUs like Indo Gulf, IFFCO etc are establishing 12 oxygen plants, in Basti, Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Gautam Budh Nagar, Prayagraj, Bareily, Sidhartha Nagar, Lucknow and

Shahjahanpur districts, with most of them expected to be operational by mid-June.

Companies are also setting up oxygen plants through their corporate social responsibility funds, including Indian Oil Corporation and NOIDA Development Authority.

Medical, Health and Family welfare, and Medical Education Departments have been engaged to provide oxygen concentrators till the infrastructure is in place. The Health and Family Welfare Department has placed orders for over 17,000 concentrators, while the Medical Education Department, which has 135 oxygen concentrators at present, said it was in the process of procuring 2,000 more.

Uttar Pradesh is also receiving oxygen via special trains, as well as 91 trucks. Officials said 120 MT was being received from Modinagar, 40 MT from Dehradun, 35 MT from Haridwar, 20 from Kashipur, apart from major supplies from Bokaro and Jamshedpur.

A live dashboard named “Oxytracker” monitors the movement of trucks on real-time basis, with colours indicating their status: green means a full tanker, grey an empty one; orange means a tractor is unloading and blue that it is loading.

Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Avaneesh Awasthi, told The Indian Express,, “For the past seven days, we have been able to maintain a supply of average 1,000 MT of oxygen daily through road as well as the Railways… About 18-19 trains must have already ferried oxygen between Bokaro and Lucknow.”

Apart from that, he said, there is at least two days of reserve at medical colleges. “There is no crisis at hospitals.

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