Updated: April 30, 2021 4:50:17 pm
Chhattisgarh has emerged as a lifeline for many in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Gujarat, rolling out tankers containing the much sought after medical oxygen, which it has been producing in surplus over the past few months.
This apart, the state has also been responding to emergencies. On Sunday, it sent out a tanker carrying 16 MT liquid oxygen to a hospital in Lucknow. “After receiving information on phone from Priyanka Gandhi, a tanker of oxygen supply to Medanta Hospital in Lucknow has been immediately arranged for the treatment of Covid-19 patients,” tweeted Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
According to Chief Minister Baghel, Chhattisgarh has no oxygen shortage. “We’ve been managing our resources well,” he said.
It is not that Chhattisgarh does not have needs. Its liquid oxygen consumption grew from 3 MT per day in March 2021 to 170 MT per day by April 20 this year. “We have to ensure that we have enough to utilise for the day and then store some, in case our demands grow. That balance is to be maintained for our smooth functioning,” a government official working on oxygen management told The Indian Express.
Currently, the state is producing 388 MT oxygen per day against its need of 170 MT.
Although the Bhilai Steel Plant, which produced more than 13,000 MT liquid oxygen from August 2020 to March 2021, remains the biggest supplier, setting up of smaller plants in the districts since November last year has turned out to be the game-changer during the second surge.
“In September 2020, we planned on setting up oxygen-generating plants as there were several issues with transportation, price control and other logistics. When work started in November, the Union government also pitched in, albeit with smaller capacity plants,” said Chhattisgarh Health Minister T S Singh Deo.
Since November last year, 16 plants have been set up in 13 districts by the state government, and one plant has been set up by the Union government. Work is in progress on seven more plants – four funded by the state and three by the Centre. Located either at the district hospital or the medical college, the 16 oxygen plants produce between 88 and 305 jumbo cylinders of oxygen a day.
According to state officials, one of the biggest benefit of the localised oxygen plants is that the hassle of transporting and storing liquid oxygen from Bhilai could be curbed, especially in districts such as Korba or Bilaspur.
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