Oxygen solidarity bridge brings India and France closer via Qatar

New Delhi, May 18: Over 80 tonnes of oxygen has been delivered from France to India and more is underway through a unique, dedicated logistical bridge organized by both governments and implemented with the Indian armed forces.

Coordinated by the Crisis and Support Centre of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and carried out by the Embassy of France in India, France’s exceptional solidarity mission in support of the Indian people severely affected by the Covid-19 epidemic involves shipping medical equipment by air and sea freight via the Middle-East.

Ever since the French President Emmanuel Macron joined a global call to help India last month, Paris has supplied medical oxygen generators – each of which can make a 250-bed Indian hospital autonomous in oxygen supply for approximately 10 years – and specialized medical equipment, notably ventilators and their consumables, as well as electric syringe pumps.

The oxygen plants have been delivered to Indian hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Telangana, based on needs as identified by the Indian authorities.

The supply, sent to lastingly boost Indian hospitals’ capabilities to treat the sick and fight the pandemic, has been made possible through a massive joint effort involving several agencies from both the countries.

How does the ‘oxygen bridge’ work?

The frame of action involves several companies, like French oxygen gas giant Air Liquide, to import liquid oxygen from abroad into India rapidly.

Large cryogenic mobile containers – in service in Europe earlier – are flown to Qatar by the services of the French Government. From there, the Air Liquide group fills them before the oxygen is transported by sea and air to India.

Indian Naval Ships like INS Trikand have been shipping Air Liquide containers from Qatar to India as part of the oxygen solidarity bridge.

At the same time, airlifting of containers from Qatar is being done by the C-17s of the Indian Air Force as the air-sea logistics supply chain operations make medical oxygen available in reduced timelines.

In total, the equivalent of about 200 tons of liquid oxygen will be delivered to the Indian hospitals by Air Liquide in coordination with the Indian health authorities.

Besides special cargo flights have been chartered free of charge by the French shipping and logistics group CMA CGM through its air cargo division with several other French companies present in India having stepped up to pool their contributions and resources with the French government’s to carry out this exceptional solidarity mission. This support also falls within the framework of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM).

This support from France federates the contributions of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Solidarity and Health, and French majors: Air Liquide, BNP Paribas, Capgemini, CMA CGM, Dassault Aviation, EDF, Naval Group, Orano, Sanofi, Safran, Societe Generale ainsi qu’ATOS, Moet-Hennessy, Renault, Airbus, L’Oreal, Alstom, Total, ADP, Hermes, Roquette, Engie, Credit Agricole, Servier, Thales, Air France, Michelin, Schneider Electric, ARaymond, bioMerieux, Legrand, NRB Bearings, Dassault Systemes, BIC Cello, Amadeus, Idemia, Emballiso, Phosphea, Robertet, Velan, Evolis, Armor Group, Soufflet, Link, Radiall et Precia Molen, with the support of the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI) and French foreign trade advisers.

“Solidarity is at the heart of the strategic partnership between France and India. A partnership between sovereign countries that have built an exceptional mutual trust and work together to enhance each other’s strategic autonomy. This is what we have been doing for years in the fields of defence, nuclear energy, space,” French President Macron said earlier this month.

“We know now that healthcare is also a pillar of sovereignty. And that is the meaning of our contribution: each of these oxygen generator plants will make an Indian hospital fully oxygen aatmanirbhar for more than 10 years. I believe healthcare can be a new field to develop our strategic partnership, building on our respective strengths. Together, we will prevail,” he added.

The two countries have indeed always stood by each other’s side in difficult times.

During last year’s peak of Covid-19 in France, when French hospitals were facing acute shortages, India provided lifesaving help through the export of critical medical drugs.

“The French people have not forgotten. India has, in fact, been at the forefront of international cooperation against the pandemic, including through sharing its massive vaccine production capacity with the countries most in need,” said Emmanuel Lenain, the ambassador of France to India.

The solidarity, strategic partnership and friendship has been strengthened further between the people of India and France through the oxygen bridge.

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)