The government is working round the clock to operationalise 1,222 oxygen generation plants across all the 736 districts in the country by the Independence Day.
Out of these proposed pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants, 500, or 40%, have already been installed, and 235 have started producing oxygen, show government statistics shared exclusively with ET. Another 338 plants have reached their sites for installation or are in transit in trucks.
“Our deadline is to make all 1,222 operational by August 15,” said Durga Shanker Mishra, secretary (housing and urban affairs), who heads the sub-group on PSA plants.“Working on the stated principle of at least one PSA oxygen generating plant per district, 1,222 (including 156 sanctioned in October 2020) plants have been sanctioned across 736 districts in 36 states and union territories,” he told ET. “Larger districts have got more than one plant.”
Once installed and operational, the 1,222 plants would cover oxygen requirement of 4,19,693 beds, making available 1,936 metric tonnes of medical oxygen.“The peak requirement of oxygen in the country during the second wave (of Covid-19) was 9,000 mt,” Mishra said. “Once all these plants are operational, the country would be equipped to cover over 20% of this peak requirement from these PSA plants.”
The 235 already commissioned plants would immediately cover any increased demand in states witnessing a surge in cases like Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, statistics show.Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will set up 866 PSA plants, while HLL Infra Tech Services (HITES) and Central Medical Services Society (CMSS) will set up 179 and 177 plants, respectively. HITES and CMSS come under the health and family welfare ministry.
Following the second wave of Covid-19 when several states faced severe oxygen shortage, the Empowered Group-4 (one of the 10 empowered groups created to tackle the Covid-19 crisis) was tasked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address oxygen availability. Another sub-group was formed in May under Mishra to oversee installation and commissioning of the 1,222 plants.
The Centre has prepared a portal to oversee the physical progress of the plants. A project monitoring unit is tracking the daily progress on plants being tested, performance of operational plants and assembled plants which are in transit. “This system would remain in place once the plants are operational so that we can keep track of oxygen being produced,” Mishra said. The government has also sought to address the criticism it faced when ventilators supplied to districts remained non-operational due to lack of trained manpower, by training people to operate these plants.
“Every district would have at least four trained personnel to man these plants,” Mishra said. “We have already started training these personnel on the basis of a module prepared by IIT Kanpur and Naval Dockyard, Vizag.”