Even as the first COVID-19 wave ebbed, Dr Rajendra Bharud, the collector of Nandurbar, located over 400 km from Mumbai, was busy installing a liquid oxygen plant of 600 litres per minute capacity at the civil hospital in September last year.
The 2013 batch IAS officer had realised that the tribal-dominated district lacked such a facility and dependence on other places for the supply would be a bane in case the COVID-19 count rose, as is evident now.
The district administration installed two more plants, one at the civil hospital and another in Shahada town of the district -- costing Rs 85 lakh each -- this year in February and March, respectively.
The Nandurbar administration encouraged private hospitals to follow suit and they also set up two oxygen generation plants, Bharud told PTI over phone.
"In all, the five operational plants in the district now produce 48 to 50 lakh litres of oxygen a day," he said.
The district administration is working on setting up two more plants, the official said.
"The chief trigger behind setting up the plants was that we did not have such a facility in the district till last September and we did not want to be dependent on others to fulfil our requirements," he said.
Nandurbar has a total of 1,250 oxygen beds. Of these, 250 are vacant at present, informed the collector, who is a former student of Mumbai's KEM and Seth G S Medical College and hails from Sakri taluka of Dhule in north Maharashtra.
"The district is not facing any problem as such at present when it comes to oxygen requirement. Overall, the situation is balanced," he claimed.
He also said Nandurbar is the "only district in the state at present to use railway coaches as isolation wards".
The district administration has pressed into service 30 ambulances for the smooth movement of patients and has also asked big gram panchayats to buy their own ambulances to facilitate patients, he said.
The collector further said the district administration has 16 mobile vaccination teams, which carry out registration a day in advance and an inoculation session is conducted the next day by visiting the area concerned.
"We have created a patient-friendly system to help them know about the availability of beds, where vaccination camps are being held and information about ambulances," the official said.
Last year, Nandurbar's highest daily count of COVID-19 cases was 190. This year, its highest single-day spike has been of 1,200, Bharud said.
"The average daily count has now come down to 200-250 a day," he added.