The Central government has come up with a five-point plan to deal with the problem of oxygen scarcity that India faces due to surge in number of coronavirus cases. The plan includes setting up a 24/7 hindrance free transport route and a control room to manage the demand and supply of oxygen on real time basis.
The five point draft plan includes-creation of a 24/7 green corridor for free movement of liquid oxygen tanks in and out of states, removing the time restrictions for trucks carrying oxygen cylinders to enter city limits, creating an inter-ministerial control group to monitor oxygen supply and demand, creating a micro-level management system to keep a check on availability of oxygen pipelines and keeping a strict check on black marketing of oxygen.
The announcement was made by secretary at Union Health Ministry secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, in a briefing on September 22. The minister said, while there is sufficient supply of oxygen at the point, the government is planning for what lies ahead. The critical care specialists handling COVID-19 cases have said that while there is no shortage currently, it is important to maintain the abundant supply of oxygen.
These measures come in the wake of some states like Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka and Assam reporting shortage of oxygen supply at hospitals.
The Health Ministry on September 11 issued an advisory to the states asking them to remove restrictions over interstate oxygen transport and production. The following week it also asked the states to bring more tankers into action, re-purpose vehicles to carry oxygen and takes steps that help reducing the turnaround time.
"Even though there is no overall shortage in oxygen supply, the problem arises when there is no oxygen inventory management and when there is lack of alert generation mechanism at the hospital levels," Bhushan said in the briefing.
The current liquid oxygen manufacturing capacity of India stands at 6,900 metric tonnes and around 2,800 metric tonnes of oxygen is required for both COVID and non-COVID patients. The Health Ministry officials have said that around 2,200 metric tonnes of oxygen is used for industrial purposes and hence there is no shortage at national level instead there is a surplus of around 1,500-1,900 metric tonnes of oxygen