One lakh portable oxygen concentrators will be purchased and 500 oxygen generation plants will be set up with PM-CARES funds, the centre said Wednesday afternoon after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister said the oxygen concentrators should be procured at the earliest and provided to states reporting high number of coronavirus cases.
The centre said this would improve access to oxygen supplies for Tier II cities and smaller towns.
"Establishing PSA plants and procurement of portable oxygen concentrators will greatly augment the supply of oxygen near the demand clusters, thereby addressing the current logistical challenges in transporting oxygen from plants to hospitals," the centre said in a press release.
1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators will be procured, 500 more PSA oxygen plants sanctioned from PM-CARES. This will improve access to oxygen, specially in district HQs and Tier-2 cities. https://t.co/oURX74RYt1— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 28, 2021
The decision comes three days after the centre said 551 PSA (pressure swing adsorption) oxygen generation plants will be set up with PM-CARES funds at public health facilities across the country.
Ten days ago the centre approved a further 162 PSA plants in public health facilities in all states.
A total of 1,213 PSA plants have been approved so far under the PM-CARES Fund till date.
Late Tuesday night the centre told the Supreme Court "medical oxygen in any country cannot be unlimited" and that it was working towards ensuring equitable and sustained supply.
On the question of PSA oxygen generating plants, the centre said these would be prioritised for hospitals in remote parts of the country - so they could be self-sufficient in this aspect.
"It is submitted that 38 plants have already been installed and another 21 will be installed by April 30, 2021. A further 105 plants will be installed by May 31, 2021 and thereafter increasing to 156 plants by June 30, 2021. Besides, 500 more PSA plants are planned to be installed in the hospitals in district headquarters to enhance oxygen generation in smaller cities and towns," it said.
The rush to set up and operationalise oxygen generation plants comes as the country faces a catastrophic second Covid wave; over three lakh new cases have been reported per day for the past week, nearly 20,000 people have, officially, died, and the active caseload is almost 30 lakh.
The surge in infections have left hospitals overflowing, doctors overworked and traumatised, and a severe shortage of drugs and oxygen; the crisis in Delhi, in particular, has made headlines.
Prime Minister Modi, whose government has been criticised for failing to plan for the second wave, has held multiple meetings over the past few days to resolve the situation, including diverting oxygen from industrial use, running special trains to transport oxygen, and turning to the global community for aid.