Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his government has taken an important decision “to boost oxygen availability to hospitals and help people” across the country as India fights a deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Medical oxygen generation plants will be set up in every district using the PM-Cares Fund. The move comes as the country battles a frightening surge in Covid cases. This morning, India reported nearly 3.5 lakh fresh infections and over 2,700 deaths in a new record high.
551 oxygen plants will be set up as a part of this move in government hospitals, an official statement read. “Oxygen plants in every district to ensure adequate oxygen availability… An important decision that will boost oxygen availability to hospitals and help people across the nation. (sic),” PM Modi said in a tweet.
Oxygen plants in every district to ensure adequate oxygen availability…
An important decision that will boost oxygen availability to hospitals and help people across the nation. https://t.co/GnbtjyZzWT
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 25, 2021
More than 700 medical oxygen generation plants have been approved by the Prime Minister’s office so far.
Hospitals across the country have been overwhelmed due to the surge in Covid infections. Top hospitals in Delhi have been sending out SOS messages over oxygen shortage; some of them have approached the high court.
Amid nationwide surge in infections, the Prime Minister has said that these plants should be made functional as soon as possible, the official statement said.
“The PM CARES Fund had earlier this year allocated Rs.201.58 crores for installation of additional 162 dedicated Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Medical Oxygen Generation Plants inside public health facilities in the country,” the statement read.
“Such a system will go a long way in ensuring that Government hospitals in the districts do not face sudden disruption of oxygen supplies and have access to adequate uninterrupted oxygen supply to manage the COVID-19 patients and other patients needing such support,” it added.
On Saturday, the government said customs duty and health cess on the import of Covid vaccines and oxygen have been waived for a period of three months. The waiver includes import of equipment related to supplying patients – whether due to Covid or otherwise – with oxygen, such as generators, storage tanks, filling systems and concentrators.
The Prime Minister on Tuesday, in a televised address to the nation, had acknowledged the sharp increase in demand for oxygen, and said the government was working to ensure its availability.
The central government has been facing criticism from opposition parties for failing to prepare against the second Covid wave despite a year to prepare.