INTERVIEW | Thangam Thennarasu Tamil Nadu

‘We are exploring every avenue to get oxygen’

The DMK government is exploring every avenue to get oxygen as the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases has pushed up the requirement in hospitals. In an interview, Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu says the requirement is dynamic.

“A lot of patients come to government hospitals after reaching the critical phase, and this has resulted in a sudden spurt in oxygen demand. We have geared up for medical oxygen production in the State, even as we are importing it and bringing it from other States,” he said. Edited excerpts:

What is the requirement in Tamil Nadu? Is there any crisis?

As such, there is no crisis, but oxygen requirement has obviously increased. Following the request from our Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Centre has increased the liquid oxygen allotment to Tamil Nadu from 220 metric tonnes a day to 519 metric tonnes a day. The government is making efforts on a war footing to meet the requirement.

How many industrial units have the facilities to make oxygen?

Not all units can make medical oxygen. The government is keen on producing wherever it is possible. One of the major sources is Sterlite in Thoothukudi, which has a capacity to make 35 metric tonnes a day. Unexpectedly, the production was stopped owing to a snag. It is being attended to, and we hope the production will commence very soon.

There was a unit in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Tirunelveli district, which stopped production in 2013. We will revive it in the first fortnight of June. We are also studying the possibility of reviving the oxygen plant at BHEL, Tiruchi. JSW’s capacity has been increased from 10 metric tonnes a day to 16 metric tonnes a day. We are going to utilise CPCL’s oxygen-manufacturing capacity by putting up a 150-bed temporary hospital nearby.

How are you managing the existing demand?

We are tapping into all sources. Our endeavour is to bring our entire allotment from east India seamlessly. We are coordinating with the Indian Air Force, the Railways and steel plants... To bring the liquid oxygen, ISO cryogenic containers are required. Since they are in short supply, we have organised five containers from the Netherlands with the support of INOC company and we received four from the Government of India.

On Sunday, we brought 80 metric tonnes from Rourkela to the southern districts. So far, we have brought over 350 metric tonnes from Odisha...

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 7:25:44 AM |

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