Staring at a shortage of oxygen supply as the Covid-19 graph climbs higher, the Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday announced setting up a new plant for manufacturing oxygen and other short-term measures to increase its import and in-house industrial production.
The move comes days after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray directed all oxygen production units to curtail export of oxygen and store about 80 per cent of its production for the state’s requirements.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday held a review meeting to take stock of the situation following reports of hospitals struggling with low oxygen supply. “I have spoken to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and requested him to not stop the supply of oxygen at such a critical time.”
Chouhan assured that no hospital in the state will have to deal with a shortage of oxygen.
Madhya Pradesh’s daily demand for oxygen stands at about 130 metric tonnes and is expected to reach 150 metric tonnes by the end of September. On Thursday, the state reported about 2,187 new Covid-19 cases, taking the number of active cases to 18,433. According to officials, at least 20 per cent of these patients require oxygen support.
The oxygen requirements of Madhya Pradesh are mainly met through imports, with at least 20 tonnes supplied by a private firm, INOX, based out of Nagpur daily and the remaining from the SAIL plant in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat. After supply from the Nagpur plant was affected on Wednesday, about 20 metric tonnes were brought from SAIL.
State officials are now pooling in resources to cater to the requirements. A senior official from the state government said, “The restrictions have affected supply from INOX’s Nagpur plant, but they have increased supply from their plants in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. That will meet the shortfall.”
Chouhan pointed out that the state has signed an agreement with INOX for setting up a plant at Mohasa in Hoshangabad to cater to the long-term needs of the state. A plant with a production capacity of about 200 metric tonnes per day will be set up in the next six months, announced Chouhan.
Meanwhile, 11 small and medium industrial units in the state have been instructed to increase the production of oxygen to meet the deficit as a short-term measure. These units will first supply oxygen for medical use and then for industrial use.
The state is also looking at procuring oxygen from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Bhopal. “We learnt that they supply about 300 cylinders to Kasturba hospital in Bhopal, we have asked them to supply it to the state hospitals as well,” said another senior official.
A senior bureaucrat has been appointed to monitor oxygen availability at all Covid care centres in the state. Sanjay Kumar Shukla, Principal Secretary, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion, said, “We are addressing the issue and there is no concern and we will meet rising demand of oxygen in the days to come.”
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