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Government limits oxygen supply to industry, diverts it to medical use to combat Covid | India News

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NEW DELHI: With several states flagging oxygen shortages as Covid cases rise, the government decided on Sunday to restrict oxygen supplies to nine industries in an attempt to divert supplies for medical use, while prohibiting flow to other sectors.
As of Thursday, entities involved in filling oxygen cylinders, pharmaceutical units, steel plants, oil refineries, wastewater treatment plants, food and water treatment, nuclear power facilities, and continuous production industries need keeping your furnaces and processes running will be among a handful of sectors where industrial oxygen will continue to be available. The issue is being addressed by a group of empowered secretaries that includes those from the Department for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), MSMEs and Textiles.

Government limits oxygen supply to industry, diverts it to medical use to combat Covid | India News

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to states on Sunday saying other sectors should consider measures such as importing oxygen or installing their own air separation units to meet the requirements. He said the measure was necessary as the DPIIT suggested that the demand for medical oxygen had risen to nearly 60% of daily oxygen production and was expected to rise further. Several states such as Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, among others, have seen a significant increase.
Interior Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the decision was made after discussions by the empowered group of secretaries. For the past few days, the group of secretaries has been working closely with state governments to ensure that excess industrial-use oxygen is redirected. As a result, a central control room has been set up that coordinates with the states and matches availability with companies.
Steel companies and refineries in the eastern region meet the requirements of states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Similarly, units in western and southern India serve states in those regions.
The CEO of a steel company told TOI that there were also problems related to oxygen transport, as liquid oxygen from factories must be transported in cryogenic tankers to maintain the required temperature. While liquid oxygen can be stored in “bullets” or tanks in large hospitals that supply oxygen through pipes, smaller ones need cylinders. As a result, bottling facilities are required.
These problems have also been brought to the attention of the government, which is expected to announce some measures to ease logistical challenges.
On Sunday, Tata Steel said it was supplying 200 to 300 tons of oxygen daily to various states. JSW is supplying around 50-100 tonnes a day from its plants in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, while SAIL has provided around 33,300 tonnes in recent days. ArcelorMittal supplies about 200 tons per day.

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