In order to ramp up the supply and availability of medical oxygen amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday chaired a meeting to review the usage of gaseous oxygen for medical purposes.
"Many industries like steel plants, refineries with petrochemical units, industries using rich combustion process, power plants etc have oxygen plants which produce gaseous oxygen which is used in the process. This oxygen can be tapped for medical use," a release by the government said.
It said state governments are being encouraged to set up more such facilities with oxygenated beds to deal with the pandemic and it is expected that around 10,000 oxygenated beds can be made available in a short period of time by making temporary hospitals near such plants.
"The strategy being used is to identify industrial units which produce gaseous oxygen of requisite purity, shortlist those which are closer to cities/dense areas/demand centres and establish temporary Covid care centres with oxygenated beds near that source," it said.
A pilot for five such facilities has already been initiated and there has been good progress on it. This is being accomplished through PSUs or private industries operating the plant & coordination of centre & state governments.
The prime minister also reviewed the progress on pressure swing adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants. "He was informed that around 1,500 PSA plants are in the process of being set up through the contribution of PM CARES, PSUs and others. He directed officials to ensure speedy completion of these plants," the release said.
The meeting was attended by Principal Secretary to PM, Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary, Secretary Road Transport & Highways & other senior officials.
As India battles the second wave of coronavirus pandemic, shortage of medical oxygen has been reported from many parts of the country. On Saturday, Batra Hospital in Delhi told the Delhi High Court that it was out of oxygen supply for over an hour, which resulted in the deaths of 12 COVID-19 patients, including a doctor.
India reported 3,92,488 new COVID-19 cases and 3,689 deaths because of the infection in the preceding 24 hours as on Sunday morning. The total active caseload stands at 33,49,644.