Ensure uninterrupted oxygen supplies, says Punjab CM


Faced with shortage of medical oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged the Centre to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supplies, with at least 120 metric tonnes (MT) daily allocation for the state, while reiterating his request for urgent steps to set up two pending PSA plants approved two months ago.

In a letter to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan, he sought immediate consideration to his request for uninterrupted oxygen supplies from the liquid medical oxygen (LMO) suppliers as per commitment on a daily basis.

He also requested that allocation to Punjab be kept at least at 120 MT daily excluding 22 MT of Punjab quota in supply to the PGIMER, Chandigarh.

While the capacity for storage of medical oxygen for all healthcare facilities in the state is around 300 MT, daily consumption and requirement of medical oxygen as per the present case load in Punjab is around 105-110 MT, the Chief Minister pointed out, adding that this was expected to further rise to around 150-170 MT in the next two weeks as per the projections of increase in hospital admissions due to the rising case load.

Amarinder Singh noted that since the main requirement of the state is fulfilled from outside, adherence of supply as per the allocation made by the Centre for all states, including Punjab, is critical to be able to meet the daily requirements.

The Central Control Group on Oxygen had allocated 126 MT (including 32 MT from the local ASUs) on April 15. However, the allocation has subsequently been reduced to 82 MT from the week of April 25, said the Chief Minister, adding this allocation would be grossly insufficient to meet the demand.

Further, the Central allocation control room has clubbed allocation of Punjab with the Union Territory of Chandigarh (22 MT) which further reduces the allocation for Punjab, he added.

The demand is currently fulfilled by the manufacturers, refillers, ASUs of the state and PSA plants in few of the districts, both in government and private sector.

He said that the biggest constraint faced by Punjab is the supply to the manufacturers and distributors and the refillers for liquid oxygen is fulfilled by manufacturers from outside the state (namely Inox, Baddi, HP; Air Liquid, Panipat and Roorkee; and Linde, Selaqui, Dehradun) as there is no LMO plant within the state.

On the two pending Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants, which were approved by the Centre two months earlier for the Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals at Patiala and Amritsar, he urged the Union Minister to initiate the process for setting them up expeditiously, in order to reduce oxygen requirement from LMO suppliers.