The government on Monday ordered all state governments and Union Territories, to stop supply of oxygen to industry barring pharma, ampule, vial makers and defence forces to maximise availability of oxygen to patients and meet surge in demand.
Piyush Goyal, additional secretary, ministry of home affairs, on Monday said the transportation of oxygen remained a major challenge as production was concentrated in the eastern and central states and there were not enough tankers to move it. The government was also working on hiring tankers from outside the country, Goyal said.
Oxygen production capacity has been ramped up from 7,259 metric tonne (MT) to 9,103 MT and sales of oxygen had reached 7,017 MT as on April 24.
Among the measures suggested to tide over these challenges was moving the tankers by train across the country to reduce time of transport, GPS tagging of the oxygen tankers to track their movement and lifting empty tankers back to production facilities by air. The government has also asked tankers that carry nitrogen and argon to be converted into oxygen tankers.
Oxygen Expresses run by Indian Railways have transported nearly 302 MT of oxygen to various states and another 154 MT liquid medical oxygen will be reaching on Tuesday to take cumulative delivery to 450 MT. Around 44 MT for Maharashtra has reached Mumbai. Four tankers are headed to Delhi. An Oxygen Express is on its way to Lucknow from Bokaro carrying 90 MT of liquid medical oxygen in five tankers.