The Oxygen Express for Punjab left for Jharkhand from Dappar railway station in Mohali early yesterday (Saturday, 15th May) morning carrying two ISO containers for the same. Punjab will soon be in a position to lift full 80 MT of its daily liquid medical oxygen (LMO) quota allocated to the state from Bokaro.
Just four days back, Centre had approved two ISO containers for Punjab with capacity of 20 MT each to help the state tide over logistical issues in lifting its allotted quota of medical oxygen.
Punjab had so far been getting cryogenic tankers airlifted to Jharkhand, but had been facing logistical issues in lifting its oxygen from Bokaro with Railways not allowing those tankers on ‘Oxygen Express’ after refilling as majority of those exceeded 3.5 metre height criteria.
To overcome the height issue, Punjab government had started sending containers on train without the truck carrier platforms.
Meanwhile, Markfed has been tasked to unload the containers in Bokaro, load these on truck carriers, get them filled and load them back to train. Further in Punjab, Markfed will again unload and transport them to destinations in across the state once they arrive.
About the state’s attempts to overcome difficulties in picking entire supply of oxygen allocated to Punjab, senior IAS officer Rahul Tewari, who is supervising the state’s Oxygen Control Room, said, “We have roped in the services of Markfed, time tested organisation of Punjab, to fasten up and streamline the O2 procurement process to ensure there is no shortage of oxygen anywhere in the state.”
With rise in Covid cases, the oxygen demand in Punjab was 305 metric tonnes as on Friday, as compared to 102 metric tonnes on April 25.
Tewari said: “The state has been planning aggressively to foresee its need of oxygen in coming days and the government has also been pushing the central government to increase its quota of tankers to lift all allotted oxygen in a smooth and timely manner.”
After allocation of additional quota of 20 MT quota from Gujarat by the Centre on May 10, Punjab’s total allocation from all resources increased from 227 MT to 247 MT.
Meanwhile, Punjab has intensified efforts to get oxygen tankers from Belgium and Australia.
State Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said the government would demand additional oxygen tankers from the Centre to speed up the supply chain of the life-saving gas in the state from far and near.
“Besides, Punjab has also expedited the process of procuring on its own more oxygen tankers from different parts of the country and abroad,” she added, after chairing a meeting to review the availability, need and distribution of the medical oxygen in the state.
Principal Secretary Transport K Siva Prasad said the efforts had also been intensified to bring oxygen tankers from Belgium and Australia. “Hopefully, the supply of oxygen tankers from Australia and Belgium will reach Punjab soon,” he added.
Principal Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation, Jaspreet Talwar, while sharing the district-wise information of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants, said a total of 44 PSA plants would be set up in Punjab at a cost of Rs 4.71 crore for which several NGOs and big companies have come forward to help the State government.
Regarding the status of oxygen concentrators in the state, the Chief Secretary was informed that Punjab has around 1,060 concentrators at present, which were being distributed in the districts as per the requirement, while more concentrators would be available soon and would be sent to the districts as per the need.
The Chief Secretary directed the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to ensure uninterrupted power supply to all the hospitals in which Covid patients were being treated.