Fertiliser companies across the country will contribute 50 metric tonnes of medical oxygen for seriously ill Covid-19 patients every day, Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday.
"Mandaviya called upon the firms to help the society during this pandemic time by reorienting their existing capacity of oxygen production and augmenting the supply of medical grade oxygen to the hospitals," the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers said in a statement.
The move comes against the backdrop of a shortage of oxygen being reported from several regions across the country, especially Delhi, for the treatment of critical patients. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also been holding several meetings to ensure the availability of the gas which is key to Covid-19 treatment and its shortage has caused panic among citizens.
The decision came after Mansukh Mandaviya chaired a meeting with fertiliser companies of the public sector, private sector as well as co-operative sector to explore the possibility of production of oxygen in their plants. "The fertiliser companies welcomed the initiative of MoS and readily showed interest to join the efforts of Government of India to fight Covid -19 situation in the country," according to the ministry's statement.
In order to increase supply, the Centre said that IFFCO is setting up an oxygen plant with a capacity of 200 cubic meters per hour in its unit in Gujarat's Kalol. The total capacity of the plant would be 33,000 cubic meters per day.
Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals (GSFS) and Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers & Chemicals (GNFC) have already started the process to enhance their oxygen production capacities, the ministry said, adding that other fertiliser firms will also set up medical plants in hospitals and designated areas at selected locations across the country through corporate social responsibility (CSR) funding.
"Altogether it is expected that approximately 50 metric tonnes (MT) of medical oxygen per day can be made available for Covid patients by the fertiliser Plants. These steps will augment the medical grade oxygen supply to hospitals in the country in the coming days." the statement read.
Meanwhile, the Centre has also waived customs duty and health cess on the import of oxygen and equipment related to the gas with immediate effect for three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to discuss ways to boost the battle against the pandemic on Saturday.
India is also getting oxygen from other countries including Canada, Dubai and Singapore. The United States is also providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics.