Vijay C Roy
Today News Online Service
Chandigarh, May 6
To meet the requirement for oxygen during the second Covid-19 surge, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been mandated as a nodal agency by the Centre for raising infrastructure (civil and electrical) for the installation of 63 oxygen plants — 44 in Haryana and 19 in Punjab — with the help of technology developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The sites for these plants, ideally on the premises of government hospitals, have been identified in consultation with the state governments concerned. Once operational, the plants will generate on-site medical oxygen in a cost-effective manner.
“The civil works began today in Kapurthala and Nawanshahr in Punjab and Panipat, Samalkha and Rohtak in Haryana. The NHAI hopes to complete civil as well as electrical work within seven days,” said RP Singh, Regional Officer, NHAI. The medical oxygen plants will be set up in these locations in collaboration with private players. Each plant has the capacity to generate oxygen with 93% (plus, minus 3%) concentration which can be directly supplied to hospital beds or used to fill medical oxygen cylinders.
The DRDO plants use the pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technique and molecular sieve (zeolite) technology to generate oxygen directly from atmospheric air. At present, Haryana’s oxygen quota is 257 MT. With the caseload rising, the state has already requested the Centre to enhance this quota to 300 MT to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply across the state.
For Punjab, the daily oxygen allocation stands at 195 MT of which 90 MT comes from Bokaro in eastern India. The remaining 105 MT comes from LMO facilities in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. However, Punjab is not getting its daily allocated quota owing to shortage of containers. In addition, there are 15 air separation units (ASUs) with a generation capacity of around 60-65 tonnes per day.
Amid the oxygen crisis, Punjab has announced “thrust sector” status for all oxygen units. It has appointed a nodal officer to coordinate with the Customs Department for quick clearance of foreign aid.