Anticipating another Covid-19 wave, Delhi govt augments oxygen storage capacity

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said three plants with a combined capacity of 171 MT have been installed and at least 19 more are in the offing in the wake of IIT-Delhi's report on medical oxygen requirements in the state.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Thursday that the Delhi government has installed three oxygen storage plants with a combined capacity of 171 MT (metric tonnes) and 19 more plants will be up in the next few days.

Kejriwal’s announcement comes on the back of the submission of an IIT-Delhi report to the Delhi High Court that underscored the need for the government to maintain an oxygen storage capacity of 207-366 MT daily, apart from the storage of 253-448 MT per day at 51 hospitals to meet worst-case scenarios during a possible third Covid-19 wave in the country.

The CM made the announcement after inspecting a 57 MT storage centre at Siraspur. Two more 57 MT capacity centres have been installed, he said, stressing that work is being carried out on a war-footing to augment the total capacity.

“This way, oxygen facilities are being created in various places in Delhi so that in case a third wave emerges, the people would not have to struggle. As many as 19 more plants are to be inaugurated within a day or two. So, all over Delhi, facilities for oxygen storage, oxygen generation are being created,” Kejriwal told reporters.

The other two storage centres have been installed at the Babasaheb Ambedkar hospital and the DDU Hospital. The critical shortage of medical oxygen is among the nine challenges identified by the IIT-Delhi team of experts led by associate professor Sanjay Dhir assisted by IAS officers Ankush Garg, Ashish Kundra, Udit Prakash Rai and Prince Dhawan.

The report said, “During the surge times, the oxygen storage capacity of Delhi Government was around 20 MT and during the SOS calls from hospitals this was highly inadequate to fulfil the gap between oxygen demand and supply.”

It advised the Delhi government to ensure daily oxygen storage of up to 366 MT, while 51 hospitals will have to maintain combined storage of 253-448 MT. The Delhi government is making arrangements based on the scenario drawn up by the IIT team in which up to 36,914 new cases may come daily and 7383 hospitalizations.

In such a scenario, says the IIT report, the Delhi government will have to maintain a storage capacity of 287 MT daily, while the same has to be 350 MT at the level of the hospitals.

The report has also spelt out the need for 20 to 25 cryogenic oxygen tankers, with a combined capacity to transport 500 MT oxygen to meet a possible surge of cases. “Procurement of 20 to 25 Cryogenic Oxygen tankers, with a capacity of around 20 MT -100 MT of various sizes, is suggested to streamline the distribution of oxygen,” it says.

On Thursday, Kejriwal said, “We faced a lot of problems regarding tankers so much so that when we had to get oxygen from Haryana and other states, we did not have tankers. So, we are also getting tankers. All preparations are in swing.”

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