The Indian government said on Monday that it has taken a number of initiatives to enhance availability of oxygen, its distribution and storage infrastructure. In a release, the government said that the steps included augmenting the entire oxygen supply chain.
"Oxygen availability has been enhanced by 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," the government said.
It added that a digital tracking system has been setup of for real time monitoring.
Talking about increasing the production, the government said that oxygen production has increased from 5700 MT per day in August last year to 9,446 MT per day in May this year.
"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 6th May," the government said. It added that the sale of LMO grew more than five-fold - from 1559 MT per day on March 31, 2021 to over 8,000 MT per day by May 3, 2021.
Talking about capacity enhancement plans, the government said that supply of oxygen for non-essential industrial purposes has been prohibited from April 22, resulting in about 1,000 MT of additional oxygen availability. "Additional capacity expansion of 630 MT/day is also planned by steel sector."
Thousands of PSA plants are also being set up under PM-Cares through the Union health ministry, the government added.
Apart from this, ministry of external affairs is actively assisting in securing sources of oxygen from abroad, the Centre said, adding that procurement of one lakh oxygen concentrators has been sanctioned under PM-Cares fund.
The government's response came after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) passed a resolution on Monday, slamming the handling of Covid-19 pandemic by the Centre. It said that the government has put the burden of vaccination on the states.
Many states have pointed to issues in oxygen supply, urging the Centre to increase their quota of oxygen to save lives of Covid-19 patients. The Centre said that it used the formula of Union health ministry to estimate oxygen requirement for each state in line with active cases there, and maximum efforts were made to align oxygen allocation to the estimated demand for each state.
"Oxygen allocation to states/UTs is dynamic in nature, based on requirement as per health ministry norms, and consultation with states/UTs, manufacturers and other stakeholders. There is a mismatch between producing and consuming states, and equity among states to be maintained," said the Centre. The government said that one-third of the production is concentrated in East India, while nearly 60% of demand for oxygen is in North and South India, resulting in transportation challenges.
The Indian Supreme Court had recently appointed a 12-member task force to look into the issue of oxygen supply. The task force held its first meeting on Sunday where it hailed the efforts put in by the Centre and suggested ways to augment the supply of the oxygen.