The state government had claimed on Saturday that some people were trying to create panic by spreading rumours on social media about oxygen scarcity.
A day after claiming there was no shortage of medical oxygen in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday reiterated that supplies were available in the state and warned of action against private hospitals if they falsely report a shortage. The state government had claimed on Saturday that some people were trying to create panic by spreading rumours on social media about oxygen scarcity.
The latest denials of oxygen scarcity came even as Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said his administration had facilitated the transport of a tanker carrying 16 tonnes of oxygen to Medanta Hospital in Lucknow as it was reportedly facing oxygen shortage.
In a statement, the UP government said Adityanath had remarked at a review meeting that oxygen scarcity in UP unlike other states riven by chaos because of a dearth of medical oxygen. The chief minister directed senior officials to ensure that oxygen plants are set up at 39 hospitals and 855 community health centres (CHCs) on a “war footing”. A government spokesperson said Rs 488 crore had been released from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) to build these plants. The state government has also asked the Centre to provide 50 oxygen tankers, according to the official.
“During the surge in Covid cases, swiftness of the process is a must. In view of the same, officials must ensure unabated supply of oxygen to all hospitals with a capacity of 100-plus beds,” the statement quoted Adityanath as saying.
The government said the cost of building oxygen plants at private facilities would be adjusted in their bills.
Principal Secretary (Medical Education) Alok Kumar said oxygen plants had already been set up at 22 of the 52 medical colleges in UP. “All these plants employ a new technology that absorbs nitrogen from atmospheric air to concentrate and extract oxygen for supply to hospitals. Work is also underway to set up oxygen plants in private medical colleges and hospitals,” he added.
Meanwhile, officials said the state administration was making attempts to ensure the rational use of oxygen. On Saturday, the government had announced it would get the consumption, sale and purchase of medical oxygen audited in collaboration with IIT-Kanpur, IIM-Lucknow and IIT-BHU. The decision was taken at a video conference meeting between Home Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi and experts. They discussed ways of judiciously using oxygen and how the audit system could be built. Senior officials from prominent universities attended the meeting. At the end of the meeting, the government decided to give IIT-Kanpur the task of developing the audit system.
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