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Punjab shuts down iron, steel industry to divert oxygen for medical use

Punjab has witnessed a sharp increase in demand over the past few days. Demand for oxygen currently stands at 250 MT per day and is further expected to go up to 300 MT in the coming days on account of spiralling Covid cases.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
April 25, 2021 9:51:02 am
An oxygen tanker is used to refill medical oxygen at Government Rajindra Hospital, in Patiala, Saturday. (PTI Photo)

To divert oxygen for medical use with immediate effect to the state’s health facilities, the Punjab government on Saturday ordered closure of the iron and steel industry. The government also ordered establishment of Oxygen Control Rooms at the state as well as district level without delay.

Taking stock oxygen shortages being reported by various hospitals, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he has already taken up the matter with Centre, seeking increase in quota on urgent basis, and Chief Secretary, Vini Mahajan, was following it up.

The sudden influx of patients from neighbouring states had put added burden on oxygen requirement in Punjab, he noted.

Ordering closure of industrial operations at the iron and steel plants, the Chief Minister said the state government will convey its decision to the Centre.

Oxygen along with LPG is used in induction, arc furnaces and rolling mills to cut and shape the iron and steel items to be used by different industry verticals. Iron and steel units are mostly concentrated in Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh.

The Chief Minister has also asked for a feasibility report from the Power Department on use of thermal plants for providing oxygen for medical use.

Punjab has witnessed a sharp increase in demand over the past few days. Demand for oxygen currently stands at 250 MT per day and is further expected to go up to 300 MT in the coming days on account of spiralling Covid cases.

The Chief Minister also directed that contracted oxygen supply under private hospitals may be reviewed to ensure that oxygen supply is optimally used and rationalised across the state.

Reacting to reports of increase in the price of oxygen by suppliers, he asked officials to discuss, negotiate and settle the pricing with bulk suppliers and inform Principal Secretary, Medical Education & Research, on the final decision.

In another decision, he ordered Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) to procure 100 more oxygen concentrators, including 50 approved earlier, in addition to 234 oxygen concentrators already being utilised in Covid facilities. It was pointed out that oxygen concentrators can support Level 2 facilities with current patient load, and also help increase the number of Level 2 beds in facilities such as in Tarn Taran and in Gurdaspur where more Level 2 beds are needed.

Principal Secretary (Industries) has been directed by the Chief Minister to urgently set up the State Control Room at Udyog Bhawan, Chandigarh, with support from Director Industries and Commerce, with other officers, as required, to be provided by the Personnel Department. He has also been asked to get the control rooms in districts set up at the earliest.

The state control room will ensure that all oxygen supply from within Punjab and from outside is closely supervised and directly monitored by the government.

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