Prime Minister Narendra Modi today chaired a high-level meeting to review the acute shortage of oxygen supply faced by hospitals amid an increasing number of coronavirus cases as a deadly second wave of Covid-19 sweeps the country.
“The PM spoke about the need to work rapidly on multiple aspects: increasing production of oxygen, increasing the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities,” said a release from the Prime Minster’s Office.
The officials briefed the PM on the efforts undertaken in the last few weeks to improve the supply of oxygen, said his office.
The availability of medical oxygen, it said, has been increased by about 3,300 MT/ day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday, the PM acknowledged the sharp increase in oxygen demand and assured the nation that the centre, states and private companies are working hard to ensure that it was available as quickly as possible.
The PM was informed how the oxygen demand from the states is steadily increasing due to high Covid caseload. India today saw a record Covid spike with 3.14 lakh infections in a day and 2,104 deaths. This is the fastest rise in cases and deaths any country has suffered till now.
Officers informed the PM that they are working together with the states to operationalise the 162 sanctioned oxygen plants as soon as possible. Last week, the centre okayed installation of those plants in public health facilities in all states amid a clamour for medical oxygen due to spike in coronavirus cases.
The PM directed the officials to ensure that oxygen supply to various states happen in a smooth, unhindered manner. He spoke about the need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction, his office added. The ministries were asked by the PM to explore various innovative ways to increase production and supply of oxygen.
The PM also stressed that the states should come down heavily on hoarding.
Efforts are are being undertaken to rapidly increase the availability of cryogenic tankers through conversion of nitrogen and argon tankers, import and airlifting of tankers as well as manufacturing them, it added.
Representatives from the medical community also spoke about the need for judicious use of oxygen and how an audit in some states has decreased oxygen demand without affecting the condition of patients.
Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Home Secretary, Health Secretary and officials from the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Road Transport, Pharmaceuticals and NITI Aayog attended the meeting.