After 75 deaths, Goa hires eight tractor drivers to ferry oxygen


Even as 75 persons perished in four days due to oxygen shortage at Goa’s top hospital, the state Health Ministry told the Bombay High Court in Goa, that eight “trained and experienced” tractor drivers had been hired from Maharashtra for transportation of oxygen trolleys to health facilities.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on May 11, had said that the main reason for the mass deaths caused by oxygen shortage at the Goa Medical College (GMC) was because of the lack of expert drivers in the state for ferrying of oxygen to the apex health facility on time.

In a status report filed before the High Court bench in Goa, the government also announced a reversal of its earlier decision to ban private oxygen suppliers from refilling oxygen cylinders for NGOs and Covid patients.

“The government has arranged eight nos. trained and experienced tractor drivers from the neighbouring Kolhapur District of Maharashtra along with two Nos. additional high-powered tractors for ferrying the oxygen trolleys between the plant and GMC,” the status report to the Bombay High Court said. “Five drivers arrived in the afternoon and have been deployed. Remaining three drivers shall be arriving late evening and would also be deployed in shifts,” the report also said.

After 26 patients died in the Covid wards of the medical college on May 11, Sawant had said that lack of tractor drivers was hampering the smooth transportation of oxygen to the health facility.

The status report also said that “the government has detailed the facilities available and functional on a 24X7 basis to facilitate refilling of oxygen cylinders for Covid patients and NGOs for use of Covid patients only in genuine cases…”.

The status report also said that a liquid medical oxygen tank was also in the process of being installed at the medical college, along with installation of dura cylinders.

“Out of 323 oxygen concentrators received, and based on assessment made by the doctors, 323 oxygen concentrators were deployed at following places as per the requirement,” the report also said.