The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has exempted tankers and containers carrying liquid medical oxygen (LMO) from paying toll charges across national highways. Priority passage is also being ensured for such vehicles to ensure seamless movement of LMO amid the raging second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The move comes within days of NHAI announcing construction of pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants with the help from the network of its contractors. "Keeping in view the current unprecedented demand of medical oxygen across the country due to COVID-19 pandemic, containers carrying liquid medical oxygen will be treated at par with other emergency vehicles such as ambulances for a period of two months or till further orders," a release from the NHAI said.
"Exemption of payment of user fee at the toll plazas will ensure faster movement of medical oxygen on the national highways," NHAI said.
Although toll plazas have nearly zero waiting time after implementation of FASTag, NHAI is already providing priority passage to such vehicles for quick and seamless transportation of medical oxygen, the release added.
"The outbreak of COVID-19 has created huge demand of liquid medical oxygen across the country. In the current medical crisis, the timely delivery of liquid medical oxygen to hospitals and medical centres is of paramount importance to save lives of patients critically affected by COVID-19," the release said.
NHAI has also issued instructions to all its officials and other stakeholders to assist government and private efforts to fight the pandemic.
Earlier this week, NHAI decided to finish civil works of 581 PSA oxygen plants. The plants will be set up in districts within 15 days of getting the site. NHAI will deploy the contractors of its projects under implementation near the sites for faster implementation. The sites for oxygen plants are to be identified by the union health ministry and they will be in close proximity to district hospitals.