“Oxygen is aplenty but transportation is our Achilles’ heel”

With rising corona cases, demand for the liquid O2 has touched astronomical proportions. As second-wave continue to unleash nation-wide onslaught, the situation is only getting worse. As misery shrouds and helplessness descends upon almost every household now, shocking visuals of kith and kin of the deceased mourning and bereaving the loss of their loved ones are going viral. Amid this hue and cry, the most critical aspect turns out to be the dearth of oxygen, apparently as the crunch has seemed to have cost many precious lives. Despite government’s repeated reassurances and unrelenting efforts, the turmoil is deepening.   

It’s true that unprecedented demand has outstripped the supply however we have enough supplies of oxygen. The real issue is the transportation. The lack of infrastructural support system is the undoing behind the rise of such unprecedented situation, said a top administrative of country’s largest liquid O2 manufacturer company.

Also Read: Railways moves maiden Oxygen Express in its resolve to fight off Covid

Though, Gujrat and Maharashtra happens to be the largest producers of liquid O2 in the country yet the situation in these two western states remains grim as both states reeling under the severe shortage of the same. The situation in Madhya Pradesh isn’t better either as it totally relies upon the twin states for supplies; moreover, it has not a single oxygen-manufacturing plant.

“Owing to the never-seen-before influx of the coronavirus cases, the crisis is further deepening because these two states are also topping the list of highest consumption across the country on account of sudden spikes in corona cases,” said Inox Air Products director Siddharth Jain.

The company is a joint venture between the Jains and Air Products, an American liquid medical oxygen producer which has 27 plants across India, of which four are in Maharashtra and three in Gujarat.

“The oxygen is available in surplus amounts in various states like Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha however the challenge lies in transporting it from surplus states to deficient ones.” He said.

An efficient and integrated Logistics support system is a sure-fire way of resolving such upheavals and disruptions effectively. It ensures smooth passage and seamless distribution cohesively across states without glitch.

Though, he was in praise for Indian Railways for launching “ Roll on, Roll off” initiative under which empty tankers will ride piggybank on flat railways wagons of maiden Oxygen Express, ferrying between oxygen-surplus destinations and deficient ones, thereby, fulfilling the demands.    

“Our environment is abound with oxygen; however for the first time ever, it is being transported in our country. As a matter of fact, it has never been attempted anywhere in the world before. Normally, where there is a requirement, oxygen plants are erected especially in industrial locations,” Jain mentioned.

“India’s per day production is 7,000 tons of liquid oxygen. Of the entire quantity, Inox Air products produce 2,000 tons.” Jain said. He even asserted, “People should remember that it is not government’s doing and blamed it on to the sudden supply-demand mismatch.”

He further explained, “Pre-Covid period saw about 20% allocation to health care sector while in Post-Covid period it went up to 70% during the time when cases peaked of the first wave in September. Given the alarming situation, now the entire quota is being directed only to the medical sector.”

“There is no solution in sight right now, apparently. However, the current logjam is a fleeting phenomenon and expected to last only for a month or two. Certain industries such as metal manufacturers, refineries and other producers are expected to suffer and will have to sacrifice for general well-being,” he added.  

All said and done, it will be interesting to see how government and healthcare facilities iron out lacunae that plague the system in the coming days, however, there is no escaping from the fact that logistics will have a key role to play to break the current impasse.

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