Amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday undertook a comprehensive review to ensure adequate medical grade oxygen supply in the country and called for ramping up its production.
With cases hitting a new peak in several parts of the country, the demand for medical oxygen has increased as it is a critical component in the treatment of COVID-19-affected patients.
Prime Minister Modi took a comprehensive review to ensure adequate medical grade oxygen supply in the country, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.
Inputs from ministries like health, steel, road transport, and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) were also shared with the prime minister during the review, it said.
Prime Minister Modi stressed that it is important to ensure synergy across ministries and state governments, the PMO said.
He also took a detailed review of the current situation of oxygen supply and projected use in the coming 15 days across 12 high-burden states — Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
The PMO said that an overview of district-level situation in these states was presented to the prime minister.
He was informed that the Centre and states are in regular contact and estimates for projected demand have been shared with states as on April 20, April 25 and April 30, it said.
The PMO said, accordingly, 4,880 MT , 5,619 MT and 6,593 MT have been allocated to these 12 states for meeting their projected demand of medical oxygen as on April 20, April 25 and April 30, respectively.
The prime minister was briefed about production capacity in the country to meet the rising demand, it said.
He suggested increasing oxygen production as per capacity of each plant.
It was discussed that surplus stocks of oxygen supply in steel plants are being offered for medical use, the PMO said.
The prime minister also asked officials to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country.
The government has exempted all inter-state movement of oxygen tankers from registration of permits to enable easier movement, the PMO's statement said.
Prime Minister Modi was informed that states and transporters have been asked to ensure tankers move round the clock with drivers working in shifts to ensure faster turnaround and adequate capacity to meet the surge in demand.
Cylinder filling plants will also be permitted to work for 24 hours with necessary safeguards, the PMO said.
The government is allowing industrial cylinders to be used for medical oxygen after due purging, it said.
Similarly, nitrogen and argon tankers will be automatically allowed to be converted to oxygen tankers to overcome the potential shortage of tankers.
During the review, officials also briefed the prime minister about the efforts being made to import medical grade oxygen, the PMO said.
India added a record 2,17,353 new coronavirus infections in a day taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,42,91,917, while active cases surpassed the 15-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.