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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Mandi Gobindgarh high on O2, but low on medical cylinders

KCA has both an Air Separation Unit (ASU), which extracts oxygen from the atmosphere, and an oxygen generating and bottling plant for filling liquid gas in cylinders.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: April 30, 2021 5:35:08 am
Punjab news, Punjab covid cases, Punjab oxygen shortage, Punjab covid deaths, Covid-19 India second wave, Indian ExpressHave to shut plants for four hours daily, rues Ramesh Chander of Ajay Gases

Raman Gupta, a partner in KCA Enterprises, an oxygen generating plant at steel town of Mandi Gobindgarh in Fatehgarh Sahib district, is a supplier of oxygen for industrial plants but for the past three days his unit is supplying this life saving gas only for medical purposes due to O2 shortage in the midst of the rapid spike in Covid-19 cases. He filled thousands of cylinders for medical use in the last three days, 50 of which he sent to Delhi hospitals free of cost.

KCA has both an Air Separation Unit (ASU), which extracts oxygen from the atmosphere, and an oxygen generating and bottling plant for filling liquid gas in cylinders.

Ramesh Chander of Ajay Gases in the same town has also filled 2,000 cylinders for medical use in half a dozen districts, including Ludhiana, Amritsar, Barnala, Patiala, Sangrur, and Jalandhar etc for the past three days. He too gives the surplus O2 to the needy who come to him with empty cylinders.

A furnace owner, who got 200 cylinders recently, has also sent them to Delhi, Noida and Haryana hospitals.

In the past five days, five Mandi Gobindgarh-based plants have emerged as major life savers for thousands of patients in the region and part of UP as well. The entire gas, which was meant for industrial purposes, is now being supplied only for medical purposes.

They are now urging the government that instead of shutting their units daily due to shortage of medical cylinders, they should be allowed to supply the surplus cylinders to other needy cities or to the industry.

“We are ready to supply 2,500 cylinders daily but there is a shortage of medical cylinders in the state because of which we have to cut down our supply to 1,500-1,600 cylinders and we are left with spare gas which can be filled in 800 to 900 cylinders. But due to the shortage of cylinders, we’ve to shut our plants for four hours every day and when we re-start the unit, it takes one and half hours more to generate O2,” rued Ramesh Chander, who runs ASU and is a founder member of Mandi Gobindgarh Gas manufacturers Association.

“Even yesterday I had to close my plant for 24 hours for want of demand,” he said.

Converting an industrial cylinder to a medical one is an expensive affair and costs Rs 3,000 per cylinder.

The industrialists are also hamstrung by their lack of medical licenses needed to generate O2 for medical purposes.

There are five main oxygen manufacturing plants and seven bottling plants for liquid gas in Mandi Gobindgarh which are meeting the oxygen demand of 100 furnaces and 25 CCM (Continue Casting manufacturing) Units located in the town.

“We have met the district authorities to give our representation and appeal to the government to maximise the O2 supply by giving us sufficient number of medical cylinders or to let us supply the surplus cylinders to industry so that we are not forced to close these continuously running plants,” said Chander, adding that district authorities have already deployed over two dozen civil and police officials at each plant to keep an eye on the supply.

Deputy Commissioner Arit Kaur Gill, said their main focus is on supplying gas for medical purposes and they are meeting all the demand coming their way immediately.

Chairman of the oxygen monitoring and auditing committee Fatehgarh Sahib, Ravinder Singh said, he has made a WhatsApp group of all the Deputy Commissioners of Punjab informing them about the availability of oxygen at Mandi Gobindgarh. With demand pouring in from all major districts of the state, the plants will be utilised to their optimal capacity,” he said.

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