States scramble amid oxygen supply shortage, Delhi raises SOS
All states across India are scrambling amid a continuous surge in daily Covid-19 cases. Shortage of oxygen supply is one of the many concerning factors that is attributing to the increasing death toll. Delhi too joined other states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh on Sunday who are reporting oxygen shortage and are rushing to ensure oxygen availability for COVID patients. The Centre has however pushed the onus of situation to state governments. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said that “they should keep the demand under control”.
Citing the current situation in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “In view of sharply increasing cases, Delhi needs much more than normal supply. Rather than increasing supply, our normal supply has been sharply reduced and Delhi’s quota has been diverted to other states.”
Mr. Kejriwal has also raised the concerns in separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. Goyal has responded, “State governments should keep demand (for medical oxygen) under control. Demand-side management is as important as supply-side management.” He said that “containing Covid spread is the responsibility of state governments and they should fulfil this responsibility”. He added, “We are with the state governments but they need to manage the demand and take concrete steps.”
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal wrote, “The Covid situation in Delhi is extremely serious. There is a shortage of beds and oxygen… We need your help… We are also facing an extreme shortage of oxygen. It should be provided to us immediately.”
“At this critical juncture, it will not be possible for hospitals to enter into the contractual arrangements with the new suppliers who have now been assigned to Delhi. The disruption is already starting to cause critical shortage across major hospitals,” Mr. Kejriwal wrote to Piyush Goyal seeking his intervention on the issue.
Goyal has raised concerns regarding oxygen wastage and that its being given to patients who don’t even require it.
The Centre has announced few measures that are being taken to handle the situation. This includes setting up oxygen plants and also beginning “oxygen express” trains that would carry oxygen tankers. The Rail Ministry said, “Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra state governments had approached the Ministry of Railways to explore whether Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) tankers could be moved by Railways. Railways immediately explored the technical feasibility of the transportation of LMO. LMO has to be transported through Roll On Roll Off (RO-RO) service with road tankers placed on flat wagons.”
Furthermore, the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes by suppliers and manufacturers would be banned from April 22, as communicated by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Sunday. He added that the department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has confirmed that oxygen supply for industrial purposes has already 60% of daily oxygen production. Bhushan added that the prohibition would not be applied to nine industries: ampoules and vials, pharmaceuticals, petroleum refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, oxygen cylinder manufacturers, wastewater treatment plants, food and water purification, and process industries that require the uninterrupted operation of furnaces.