'Raise medical oxygen allocation by 200 MT': Maharashtra writes to Centre

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has demanded the Centre enhance the present allocation of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) to the state by at least 200 metric tonnes (MT) which will help in better management of the demand for the life-saving gas.

In a letter addressed to Union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba on May 3, Maharashtra chief secretary Sitaram Kunte also demanded that 10 LMO tankers be allocated to the state to enable lifting of the allocated oxygen quota.

The state government has requested that the supply from Jamnagar in Gujarat be increased to 225 MT per day from the current 125 MT per day and from Bhilai to 230 MT per day from the current 130 MT.

”These geographically close locations will reduce the turnaround time of oxygen tankers, which are limited in numbers. This will also enhance our daily lifting and better demand management,” Kunte stated.

The chief secretary said of the 6,63,758 (COVID-19) active cases in Maharashtra, 78,884 patients are on medical oxygen including 24,787 in the ICUs of hospitals.

Kunte also said 16 districts -Palghar, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, Nandurbar, Beed, Parbhani, Hingoli, Amravati, Buldhana, Wardha, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur are showing continuous growth in coronavirus positive cases and the oxygen requirement is on the rise.

“Considering the rise in the demand for medical oxygen, the present allocation to the state can be enhanced by at least 200 MT. This allocation may be raised at the locations convenient to Maharashtra,” Kunte added.

He also urged the Union government to allocate at least 10 LMO tankers to Maharashtra to enable lifting of the allocated oxygen quota from the steel plant located at Angul (Odisha) via Ro Ro (Roll-on/ roll off) service.

As of Monday, the overall COVID-19 caseload in Maharashtra stood at 47,71,022 while the death toll reached 70,851, the state health department had said.

Given the huge rise in cases, Maharashtra has been battling the shortage of medical oxygen in many hospitals.

In a bid to tide over the shortage crisis, the state government has initiated various measures including setting up of the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants.

All tankers carrying liquid medical oxygen (LMO) in the state are being fitted with GPS devices in order to track their movement and ensure better management of supply of the life-saving gas to COVID-19 patients, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Speaking to PTI, state transport commissioner Avinash Dhakane said currently, 250 tankers are being used for the supply of LMO, demand for which has surged with the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Nearly 50 per cent of the 250 tankers are already fitted with GPS, while the remaining will be fitted with it within a few days. Once all the tankers fitted with these device, their movement can be tracked from the control room,” Dhakane said.

A control room has been set up for monitoring the movement of tankers supplying oxygen across the state and officials from the Road Transport Offices have been deputed to get the GPS devices fitted, he said, adding that LMO is being supplied from 19 different plants through tankers.

The Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) has funded the work of installing GPS on oxygen tankers, the official said.

Meanwhile, the FADA in a release stated that its state president Amar Jatin Sheth had recently met the transport commissioner to understand how the association can contribute in the fight against COVID-19 and on his recommendation, FADA Maharashtra decided to fix the 250 oxygen tankers with GPS devices.