At a time when health facilities across the country are ruing about shortage of medical oxygen, a key live-saviour in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, the Centre on Thursday said money under the PM-Cares Fund would be channeled to set up medical oxygen manufacturing units at 100 hospitals to make them self-reliant.
The decision was taken by an Empowered Group-2 on COVID-19.
While identifying Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan as “high burden” states, the government said that an indicative framework has been development to guide these states on the sources of medical oxygen.
That apart, 50,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen will also be imported.
The government is reviewing around 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants, which help in the production of medical oxygen. Another 100 hospitals in remote locations will be identified for consideration for installation of PSA plants.
Formed in March last year, soon after the outbreak of the pandemic in India, the Empowered Group-2 has been entrusted with ensuring availability of medical equipment including medical oxygen to COVID-hit states.
The decisions came on a day when the country logged in over 2 lakh COVID-19 infections, the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.
Several states have been complaining of lacking enough medical oxygen to treat patients.
The government, however, has said that there is no shortage of oxygen as India has been producing it at full capacity and that the crisis has arisen due to lack of the availability of oxygen when it is required the most.
“There is sufficient production capacity of around 7,127 metric tonnes of medical oxygen per day in the country. As per need, the surplus oxygen available with steel plants is also being utilized to cater to the emergency created by the second COVID-19 wave. For the past two days, India has been using its 100 per cent production capacity,” a health ministry official told India Today.