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Govt permits high-quality containers to move liquid oxygen

File photo for representation.   | Photo Credit: M. PRABHU

With oxygen shortage reported from several parts of the country in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases, the government has allowed the domestic movement of liquid oxygen through tank containers conforming to international quality standards.

While asserting that the country has no oxygen shortage overall, the Health Ministry has been taking steps to deal with regional disparities in availability. On September 11, it advised the States to refrain from posing restrictions on inter-State movement of liquid oxygen and last week, a virtual control room was set up to coordinate with the State governments on oxygen supplies.

Citing the urgent need to move sufficient oxygen at short notice from surplus areas to deficit areas, the Commerce and Industry Ministry on Wednesday allowed the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation to grant online permits for deploying ISO tank containers to move liquid oxygen.

ISO tank containers are built to standards specified by the International Organisation for Standardisation, and are designed to carry liquids in bulk. The stainless steel tankers have several protective layers and an ISO tanker can carry 20 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen.

Also read | India has surplus medical oxygen: government

“This permission has been given for one year initially to expeditiously deal with the emergent situation. Amid the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the movement of oxygen within the country through the ISO containers shall greatly enhance the translocation of safe and fast movement of oxygen through road network,” the Commerce and Industry Ministry said in a statement.

The proposal was initiated by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade after consultations with cryogenic oxygen manufacturers and other stakeholders.

Five-point plan

With over 6% of COVID-19 patients in the country currently on oxygen support, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday that the government had a five-point plan to tackle oxygen shortage. This plan included the creation of a green corridor for liquid oxygen tankers, scrapping time limits for trucks entering cities and stricter checks on hoarding and black marketing of oxygen. An inter-ministerial group was also tracking oxygen supply and demand on a real-time basis.

India can manufacture 6,900 metric tonnes of medical oxygen a day and it is estimated that medical oxygen demand for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 causes is around 2,800 metric tonnes.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 1:15:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-permits-high-quality-containers-to-move-liquid-oxygen/article32675752.ece

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