New Delhi: The Centre on Monday (May 10, 2021) stated that it has undertaken key measures to increase the availability, streamline the distribution and strengthen the oxygen storage infrastructure in the country in order to address the surge in demand for oxygen.
“The steps undertaken focused on the entire oxygen supply chain. These include efforts for improving oxygen production, enhancing tanker availability to optimize logistics, improving oxygen storage at the last mile, and easing norms of procurement,” the Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry said in a press statement.
They added that the oxygen availability has been enhanced by the increase in production capacity and production, setting up of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants, import of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) from overseas, and procurement of oxygen concentrators.
“For enhancing tanker availability to streamline transportation, Nitrogen and Argon tankers have been converted, tankers and containers have been imported, domestic manufacturing of tankers increased, and rail and air transportation of tankers is being undertaken to reduce turn-around time,” they further said.
The Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry also informed that Oxygen Digital Tracking System (ODTS) has been set up for real-time monitoring, and driver availability is being enhanced with the training of MHV drivers.
They said that for improving oxygen storage, the number and capacity of cryogenic tankers at hospitals is being enhanced and medical oxygen cylinders are being procured.
Increase in oxygen production
The Centre said that the oxygen production has increased from 5700 MT/day in August’20 to 9,446 MT/day in May’21. The production capacity has increased from 6817 MT/day to 7314 MT/day and the capacity utilization has gone up from 84% to 129% during this period.
“Steel companies from both the public and private sectors, have stepped up efforts to meet the nation’s requirement of medical oxygen,” the Centre said.
They stated that on May 4, 2021, the total liquid medical oxygen production by the steel plants was 3680.30 MT, while the total LMO supply per day was up from an average 1500-1700 MT in mid-April to 3131.84 MT on April 2, and further to 4076.65 MT on May 4.
“Commensurate with the increase in production and demand, LMO sale in the country has also increased from about 1,300 MT/day in March’21 to 8,920 MT/day on May 6,” the Centre said.
They added that during the first wave of COVID-19, the maximum sale of 3095 MT/day of LMO was seen on September 2, 2020, while the sale of LMO grew more than five-fold from 1559 MT/day on March 31, 2021, to over 8000 MT mark by May 3, 2021.
Oxygen Digital Tracking System
The Centre informed that a web and app-based Oxygen Digital Tracking System (ODTS) has been launched to enable real-time tracking of oxygen movement in the country. They stated that its objectives are effective and instantaneous communication of allocation orders to plants and dispatches from plants, and to enable real-time tracking of oxygen movement in the country from plants to states.
“It integrates with GSTN database for E-waybill based data entry, Tracking of tankers through GPS, SIM (Driver Mobile No.), FASTag, and Automated alerts from the system for route deviation, unintended stoppages, delays,” the Centre said.
Oxygen allocation process
The Centre said that an oxygen allocation process has been established to equitably supply oxygen to all states in line with the demand. The first oxygen allocation order issued on April 15, 2021, was restricted to a few states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. However, as the second wave of COVID-19 spread to other states, demand for oxygen increased from other states.
“The formula of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was used to estimate oxygen requirement for each state in line with the active cases in the state, and maximum efforts were made to align oxygen allocation to the estimated demand for each state,” the Centre said.
“Other factors such as availability of hospital infrastructure including ICU beds were also taken into account while finalizing allocation,” they added.
Procurement of oxygen concentrators
The Centre said that the procurement of 1 lakh oxygen concentrators has been sanctioned under the PM Cares Fund on April 27, 2021. They informed that offers for 50,000 concentrators have been received from domestic manufacturers and an award for 9,800 units have been finalized with a delivery schedule of 4,800 units on May 15, 2021, and 5,000 units on May 27, 2021.