According to the Indian government, the demand for oxygen in hospitals and healthcare facilities has increased almost ten times compared to demand prior to the pandemic. With COVID-19 cases rising rapidly, many patients with severe infection are not getting the emergency oxygen supply they need. In order to help fulfill the rapidly increasing requirement for medical oxygen, cooperatives in Gujarat are working on a war footing to make oxygen available for patients.
Gujarat cooperatives setting up oxygen plants
The Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) is working on war footing to make an under-construction oxygen plant at their Kalol unit in Gujarat operational by May 15 to provide free oxygen to hospitals facing a shortage. Last week, Dr US Awasthi, Managing Director and CEO of IFFCO, tweeted, “IFFCO will give free oxygen to hospitals. Each cylinder of 46.7 litre.”
IFFCO is setting up a total of four oxygen plants in India at a cost of about Rs. 30 crores. Like IFFCO, Kribhco and UPL Ltd are also setting up oxygen plants at their units to boost its supply for treatment of COVID patients.
The Gujarat government is planning to set up 36 PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) oxygen generation plant in 22 state-run hospitals to tide over the shortage of oxygen in the state, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Twitter. The Gujarat High Court declared that the state government has raised a demand for 1,200 MT of oxygen, whereas the allocation by the Centre is only 900 MT, which is 25% less compared to the demand.
Gujarat’s Registrar of Cooperatives has directed all the district cooperative milk unions throughout the State to arrange oxygen crops for their respective areas. This comes after the success of Banas Dairy. A team of engineers at Banas Dairy in Banaskantha district set up an oxygen plant in 72 hours flat to help its district medical college tide over the severe shortage. It generates oxygen equivalent to 70 jumbo oxygen cylinders or 680 kg, sufficient for 35-40 patients for a day.
The district administrations will assist these dairies in sourcing technical particulars and gear for the oxygen plant, which uses pressure-swing adsorption (PSA). The challenge value ranges between Rs. 35-45 lakh for 480 cubic meters per day capability.
Corporates donating oxygen plants
Agricultural sciences company FMC Corporation announced its commitment towards COVID-19 relief measures in India, which will focus on enhancing the oxygen supply at hospitals across five states. FMC India will procure and donate seven Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants to hospitals in Delhi NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. The installation of PSA oxygen plants at these hospitals will enable a continued supply of oxygen, without the challenges of transportation logistics.
As the country battles a second critical wave of the pandemic, these initiatives will augment the supply near the underserved demand clusters, by producing 1,680Nm3 of oxygen daily to support local hospitals, in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. Said Pramod Thota, President of FMC India, “Our entire nation is challenged by the severity and intensity of the second wave of COVID-19, causing multiple shortages of critical supplies due to an exponential demand for medical infrastructure. To help meet some of the urgent demand for oxygen at area hospitals, FMC India will contribute seven PSA plants to support urgent patient care and save precious lives. We are committed to partnering with our channel partners and communities to help address some of the critical healthcare shortages in India.”
Top automobile maker Maruti Suzuki will shut down factories in Haryana and Gujarat to make oxygen available for medical needs. As part of the car manufacturing process, Maruti Suzuki uses a small amount of oxygen in its factories while relatively much larger quantities are used by the manufacturers of components. The company will advance its bi-annual maintenance shutdown from May 1-9, 2021.
Several other Indian companies including Reliance Industries Limited, Tata and Jindal Steel and Power Limited have come forward to mitigate the oxygen crisis. They have increased oxygen production at their plants to help meet the daily oxygen requirement at hospitals.