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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Railway, IAF on job, must not stop any oxygen tanker: PM Modi tells surge states

PM Modi also referred to reports from several parts of the country and told the Chief Ministers to check “hoarding” and “black marketing” of oxygen and medicines.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
April 24, 2021 4:01:07 am
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting with chief ministers on COVID-19 situations through video conferencing, in New Delhi, Friday, April 23, 2021. (PTI)

Assuring the Centre’s “full support” for 11 states and UT hit hardest by the second Covid surge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday asked their Chief Ministers during a virtual meeting Friday to set up a high-level coordination committee that will ensure timely delivery of oxygen to hospitals.

Modi also referred to reports from several parts of the country and told the Chief Ministers to check “hoarding” and “black marketing” of oxygen and medicines.

Friday’s meeting came against the backdrop of the country’s daily positivity rate reaching a staggering 19.12 per cent, with 3,32,730 new cases and 2,263 deaths registered in the last 24 hours. India’s total active caseload has reached 24,28,616 with five states —Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala — cumulatively accounting for 59.12 per cent of it.

Modi also held a separate meeting with leading oxygen manufacturers, which was attended by Mukesh Ambani of RIL, Soma Mandal of SAIL, Sajjan Jindal of JSW, Shri Narendran of Tata Steel and Naveen Jindal of JSPL, including others.

During the meeting with Chief Ministers, Modi directed state administrations to ensure that “no oxygen tanker, whether it is meant for any state, is stopped or gets stranded”. On the coordination committee, Modi said that it “should ensure that as soon as there is allotment of oxygen from the Centre, it can deliver oxygen as per requirement in different hospitals of the state immediately.”

Modi assured that the Centre is working on “all possible options to reduce the travel time and turnaround time of oxygen tankers”. He pointed to two key steps: Oxygen Express started by the Railways, and empty oxygen tankers transported by the Air Force to reduce one-way travel time.

“… there is a continuous effort to increase oxygen supply. All the concerned departments and ministries of the government are also working together. Industrial oxygen has also been diverted to meet immediate requirements,” Modi said.

On the second wave, the Prime Minister flagged three steps: united effort and strategy since the virus is affecting multiple states as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities; focus on widespread testing; and steps to ensure that the vaccination drive does not slow down.

“PM Modi assured Centre’s full support to all the states in this fight. He added that the Ministry of Health is also in touch with the states and is monitoring the situation closely and issuing necessary advice to the states from time to time,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

During the meeting, Dr V K Paul, who heads the Centre’s Covid task force, presented a roadmap for states to ramp up medical facilities and ensure targeted treatment of patients.

Following 24 deaths in Nashik due to an oxygen tank leak and 14 deaths inside a Covid ICU in Maharashtra due to a fire, Modi raised the issue of hospital safety. “Expressing grief on recent incidents of oxygen leakage and fire at hospitals, PM Modi said the administrative staff of the hospital needs to be made more aware about the safety protocols,” the statement said.

On the meeting with manufacturers, the PMO said: “PM Modi remarked that the government, the states, the industry and the transporters, and all the hospitals need to come together and work in unison. The better the synergy and coordination, the easier it will be able to deal with this challenge.”

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