The Central government is undertaking a detailed daily mapping of sources for the supply of medical oxygen with a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country to ensure uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen, the Health Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.
“Medical oxygen is a critical component in the treatment of COVID-19 affected patients. An inter-ministerial Empowered Group (EG2) of officials has noted that currently there is sufficient production capacity of around 7127 MTs for oxygen in the country, and as per need, the surplus oxygen available with the steel plants is also being utilised,” the release said.
It added that the country had a daily production capacity of 7127 MT of oxygen. Against this, the total production was 100% for the past two days, as directed by the EG2.
The Health Ministry noted that as on April 12, the medical oxygen consumption in the country was 3,842 MTs, that is 54% of the daily production capacity. The maximum consumption of medical oxygen in the country is by Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, followed by Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Rajasthan.
While States had been asked to make rational use of medical oxygen and ensure there was no wastage, the EG2 had also initiated several measures, including increasing production, utilising the surplus stocks available with steel plants and mapping the requirements of States with oxygen sources.
The Health Ministry noted that the challenge at present was to move oxygen from States which had less necessity to those with increased necessity, and moving of oxygen tankers by rail was also being actively worked out.
“To facilitate seamless movement of oxygen tankers mapping of cylinders State-wise has been done and industrial cylinders have been permitted to be used for medical oxygen after due purging. Also orders have been given by PESO (Petroleum and Safety Organisation) for conversion of argon and nitrogen tankers for use as oxygen tankers, thereby the fleet available for transportation of tankers has been enhanced,’’ noted the Ministry. It added that the Centre had also allowed free movement of oxygen tankers between States.