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Second wave: Punjab to get additional 20 MT medical oxygen from Gujarat

Demand for oxygen in Punjab had doubled from 152 MT to 304 MT in a fortnight till Monday.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
May 12, 2021 8:32:45 am
Oxygen cylinders are supplied for Covid-19 patients. (Express Photo: Narendra Vaskar/File)

The Centre has allocated additional quota of 20 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to Punjab from Gujarat even as the state continues to reiterate its demand that oxygen should be made available to it from nearby resources due to logistical constraints. A tanker after getting filled with liquid medical oxygen (LMO) from Hazira in Gujarat would take about two and a half days to reach Punjab taking the road route.

According to Punjab Covid Control Room incharge for oxygen supply Rahul Tewari, “To lift 20 MT daily quota from Gujarat, we require minimum five tankers, because one tanker will lift a quota of 20 MT and reach Punjab in two and a half days, decant the oxygen supply, and would take as much time to get the tanker refilled there. So, one tanker would lift 20 MT of oxygen in five days. We need five tankers to lift 20 MT from Gujarat, but we have got only two tankers. This would mean that we would be able to lift quota for two days and would not be able to lift our quota for three days. This is the reason, we are not being able to avail our quota from far off places as we are short of tankers.”

However, the additional allocation has raised Punjab’s total quota of the life saving gas from 227 MT to 247 MT.

A Union Health Ministry letter to Punjab government on Monday said: “In the light of consistent increase in Covid cases and on the request of the state government of Punjab, the following special allocations are proposed to be made — 20 MT allocation proposed from Inox, Hazira against additional production and stocks.” The additional quota was allocated after approval from the empowered group dealing with the oxygen supply.

On May 10, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had approved two tankers having a capacity of 20 metric tonnes each for Punjab in the mapping of 12 ISO containers/tankers (LNG) by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited to states.

These two containers were scheduled to arrive in Punjab on May 13, but were re-routed to Hazira on Tuesday to lift additional oxygen supply allocated to the state.

Demand for oxygen in Punjab had doubled from 152 MT to 304 MT in a fortnight till Monday.

In addition to 20 MT quota from Gujarat, Centre has allocated Punjab 90 MT from three plants in Bokaro, Jharkhand, 60 MT from a plant in Himachal Pradesh, 25 MT from two plants in Uttarakhand and 20 MT from a plant in Haryana. There is additional 32 MT diverted for medical oxygen from industrial units within the state.

Punjab currently has around two dozen big cryogenic tankers for transportation of liquid medical oxygen and around another five for local transportation of the gas from the state and adjoining facilities near the state, making it difficult to avail the allocated quota with limited number of tankers.

To add to the state’s woes, the tankers airlifted to Bokaro, from where maximum quota has been allocated, are not making it to the ‘Oxygen Express’ as majority of these do not fulfil maximum height ceiling of 3.5 metres, and hence have to take road route to fetch the gas, taking around four days as compared to 30 hours if transported through rail.

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