Goodwill gesture: Tata, RIL, JSW among firms pitching in to fix Oxygen supply gap

Our Bureaus Mumbai/Bengaluru/Hyderabad/Chennai April 21 | Updated on April 22, 2021

A host of large private sector firms in the manufacturing sector are repurposing their factories to produce medical oxygen in times of scarcity.

With many Covid-19 patients dying due to lack of oxygen at hospitals, a number of corporates have come forward to help with the situation.

Tata Group, for example, has announced that it will import 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen via special chartered flights.

“The Tata group is importing 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen and help ease the oxygen shortage in the country,” Tata Group said in a tweet. “Given the oxygen crisis, we are putting in all our efforts to support India’s healthcare infrastructure,” it said.

Separately, Tata group subsidiaries like Tata Steel are also diverting oxygen to States to help with the rising demand.

“Medical oxygen is critical to the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Responding to the National urgency, we’re supplying 200-300 tonnes of Liquid Medical Oxygen daily to various State governments & hospitals,” Tata Steel had said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd has tweaked manufacturing at its Jamnagar oil refineries to produce over 700 tonnes a day of medical-grade oxygen which is being supplied free of cost to States badly affected by Covid-19.

The company’s Jamnagar refineries in Gujarat initially produced 100 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen has now been ramped up to over 700 tonnes. The company plans to raise medical-grade oxygen production capacity to 1,000 tonnes.

Similarly, JSW Steel is planning to ramp-up production and supply 600 tonnes of oxygen per day from its three plants spread across Karnataka (Ballari), Maharashtra (Dolvi) and Tamil Nadu (Salem).

The company last week had announced that it is supplying 185 tonnes of oxygen from its Dolvi plant in Maharashtra. The company is working out a plan to scale-up oxygen supply from its plant in Tamil Nadu as well.

On Tuesday, JSW Steel’s Deputy Managing Director, Vinod Nowal had a discussion with Murugesh R Nirani, Karnataka’s Minister Mines and Geology on the shortage of oxygen in the state and agreed to supply 400 tonnes of oxygen per day to treat Covid-19 patients.

Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (Vizag Steel Plant) has also been supplying liquid oxygen to Andhra Pradesh and other states to be used in their Covid treatment facilities.

The steel plant’s air separation facility has five units of oxygen extraction plants for its steel plant. Of this, three units have the capacity to produce 550 tonnes per unit per day and two units have the capacity to produce 600 tonnes per unit per day. It produces 2,600 tonnes of oxygen in gas form, and 100 tonnes in liquid form every day. The liquid form gas is now being supplied for medical purposes for the past few days.

Vedanta’s offer

Vedanta group has offered to supply oxygen from its closed Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. The company has written separate letters to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan; Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary in this regard. Vedanta said that the plant contains two oxygen plants with a combined capacity to produce 1,050 tonnes of oxygen daily. “We would like to now offer these facilities for your use towards ensuring that there is no lack of this vital commodity in the nation,” Pankaj Kumar, CEO, Sterlite Copper, said in the letter.

The letter said that the company has also filed a petition to outline this offer of support in the Supreme Court, in view of the ongoing legal proceedings.

The oxygen plans are presently shut down on the orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the State government shutting down the copper smelter unit of the company, the letter said.

Published on April 21, 2021

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