Hike quota of oxygen to 300 MT, Punjab CM urges PM: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to increase the total quota of oxygen to 300 metric tonnes (MT), and ensure urgent supplies of vaccine for the state, which has been facing shortage on both counts.
The Chief Minister raised these issues when Modi called him up to discuss the state’s Covid-19 situation and the measures being taken to tackle the crisis.
The Prime Minister assured of all possible help, the Chief Minister said later, adding he hoped the Centre would take immediate steps to supplement the oxygen supplies, and ensure that vaccine doses were sent to Punjab on priority to help the state effective manage the situation triggered by the second wave of the pandemic.
On the vaccine front, Amarinder Singh told the Prime Minister that the state had so far been unable to initiate the Phase III vaccination process for 18-45 age group, which will now start in government hospitals on Monday following the delivery of 100,000 doses.
For the 45 plus age group, too, the vaccine doses were in short supply, and while 1.63 lakh doses were expected to come today, these were not enough to meet the state’s requirement, he added.
The Chief Minister informed Modi that the state urgently required 300 MT of oxygen in view of the growing caseload of critically ill patients, many of whom were coming from other states, including Delhi-NCR.
The state has a high mortality count, and hospitalisation in Level II and III facilities (both government and private) has seen a sharp surge over the past three weeks, pushing up the oxygen demand.
From 197 MT on April 22, the demand had risen to 295.5 MT on May 8, he pointed out, adding that the shortage of tankers had made the situation worse and the Centre’s support was needed to enhance the LMO quota and also supply more tankers to Punjab to enable it to cope with the crisis.
An official spokesperson later told the media that state Health Secretary Hussan Lal, in a letter to Additional Secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, had noted that while the state has taken several steps to ensure judicious use of oxygen by hospitals, in line with the advisory of the government of India, the growing demand for oxygen necessitated an increase in allocation to 300 MT.
Further, only four oxygen tankers have been allocated to Punjab, of which two are yet to be made functional. Since 40 per cent of the allocation (227 MT) is out of Bokaro (in Jharkhand) from where transport of oxygen takes three to five days, the Health Secretary has requested allocation of at least eight more tankers on an urgent basis, against the total demand for 20 tankers raised by the state.