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By air, rail and road – how oxygen is being transported across India amidst a severe COVID-19 crisis

By air, rail and road – how oxygen is being transported across India amidst a severe COVID-19 crisis
  • Hospitals across the country are crumbling under pressure as ambulances line up outside their gates and critical patients await a chance for admission.
  • As the urgency for supply increases, oxygen is being transported by air, rail and road.
  • The Indian Air Force and Indian Railways are chipping in to transport oxygen.
India is witnessing a rampant surge of COVID-19 cases, having reported over 3 lakh cases, on Friday, for the second consecutive day. Hospitals across the country are crumbling under pressure as ambulances line up outside their gates and critically ill patients await a chance for admission.

In the midst of all this, a severe oxygen supply crisis has further crippled most hospitals. India’s top hospitals are sending out SOS messages on social media platforms like Twitter to get the government’s urgent attention to the lack of oxygen supply.

In the midst of all this, petty fights have also come up between state administrations as states try to hoard oxygen within their boundaries. Top hospitals like Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital have reported that as many as 25 patients have died due to the lack of oxygen. However, the hospital denied the news later.

States like Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh are dependent on other states like Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Odisha for the supply of oxygen. And as the urgency for supply increases, oxygen is being transported by air, rail and road.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high level meeting to monitor the oxygen supply across the country. “Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT (metric tonnes)/day of Liquid Medical Oxygen, Government of India has from 21st April, allocated 6,822 MT/day to these states. Various measures are being undertaken to rapidly increase the availability of cryogenic tankers through conversion of nitrogen and argon tankers, import and airlifting of tankers as well as manufacturing them,” said a statement by the Press Information Bureau.

Here’s how oxygen is being transported across the country



Indian Air Force chips in

Indian Air Force chips in
IAF/Twitter

The Indian Air Force is helping in airlifting cryogenic oxygen containers from different parts of the country to the states in need.

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The Indian Air Force is airlifting empty oxygen tankers

The Indian Air Force is airlifting empty oxygen tankers
IAF/Twitter
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Oxygen express

Oxygen express
BCCL

The Indian Railways is running an ‘Oxygen Express’ to deliver oxygen to states like Maharashtra. The first run for the "Oxygen Express" was on Thursday from Visakhapatnam to Maharashtra. The cylinders were being transported from the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (RINL) facility.

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Under strict police observation

Under strict police observation
Odisha Police/Twitter

As the oxygen crisis worsens in the country, it is important to ensure the tankers don’t fall in wrong hands. To ensure the same, tankers going by road are being escorted by the police. Tankers leaving from Angul in Odisha were escorted by the police till Visakhapatnam. “Two more tankers with medical oxygen on way from Jajpur for Visakhapatnam, Andhra and one for Pune, Maharashtra. A dedicated corridor is being provided under Odisha Police escort,” wrote Odisha Police on Twitter.

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