The Empowered Group 2 (EG2, a group formed by the PMO comprising officials from different ministries and experts), on Thursday, set the ball rolling, for mapping the sources of medical oxygen and their production capacity to match the requirement of 12 high-burden States, and has developed a framework to guide them.

EG2 has also decided to float a tender for import of 50,000 tonnes of medical oxygen. Union Health Ministry has been directed to finalise the tender for these import and also explore possible sources for imports identified by the External Affairs Ministry.

PSA plants

EG2 has also directed the Health Ministry to identify another 100 hospitals in far flung locations for installation of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants, which manufacture oxygen and help hospitals become self-sufficient in their requirement for medical oxygen.

Medical oxygen is a critical component in the treatment of Covid-19 affected patients. Demand for medical oxygen has been on a rise, especially from the 12 States: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

As for the mapping of oxygen sources, 4,880 tonnes, 5,619 tonnes and 6,593 tonnes have been indicated to these 12 States for meeting their projected demand as on April 20, 25 and 30, respectively. “Health Ministry is issuing orders in this regard and the same would be notified by Home Ministry,” an official release said.

While the demand in Maharashtra is expected to go beyond its production, other States like Madhya Pradesh do not have any production capacity. Besides, there is a trend of increasing demand in other oxygen producing States such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, etc.

Mapping exercise

To give clarity and assurance to the States, a mapping exercise was undertaken jointly by DPIIT, MOHFW, Ministry of Steel, , Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) along with key stakeholders including the representatives from oxygen manufacturers, All India Industrial Gas Manufacturers Association (AIIGMA) as per the directions of EG2.