Even as most of the major hospitals in Kashmir are already equipped with independent oxygen manufacturing plants, authorities have stepped up the process of adding six new plants to the system within a fortnight. Two of such plants have been commissioned and made operational in the last few days and four more in southern Kashmir are likely to be in service by next week.
Contrarily in Jammu, entire industrial and medical oxygen manufacturing has been immediately diverted to raise the stock position at all the hospitals. Officials were planning to transfer at least one plant from Kashmir to Jammu as it has not been utilised for a long time and the stock position there is reportedly sufficient.
Director Health Services Kashmir Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Rather rushed all the way to Kupwara on the express directions from Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Atal Dulloo on Saturday and inaugurated the oxygen plant installed at the District Hospital. It was inaugurated days after a bigger capacity plant was inaugurated at Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital Rainawari in Srinagar. One plant of even bigger capacity had been installed and inaugurated at SKIMS Medical College Hospital at Bemina in Srinagar early in 2020.
On Saturday itself, one private oxygen manufacturing unit was made operational for experimental basis at industrial estate in Samba, Jammu. This is the 8th oxygen manufacturing plant in the private sector in Jammu.
FC Health and Medical Education had announced last week at a news conference that 36 new medical oxygen plants would be added to the existing system in the near future. According to him, 23 of such plants were almost complete and would be made operational in a few days.
Managing Director Jammu and Kashmir State Industrial Development Corporation Mohammad Harun Malik told India Narrative that the new plant at Samba was now in the process of registration and testing as per the guidelines given by the Centre as it was for the first time that the units manufacturing oxygen for industrial purpose had been permitted to manufacture medical oxygen.
Malik said that the main difference between the medical and industrial oxygen was that of the cylinders. He said that some of the plants were getting raw material in liquid form from outside the UT while some were splitting the gases and producing pure oxygen locally. According to him, more than 3000 cylinders of medical oxygen would be in the government hospitals' stocks in J&K in the next few days.
The J&K Government has imposed a blanket ban on supplying oxygen for industrial purposes and directed all the units in the private sector to feed only the hospitals for the time being in the wake of an unprecedented crisis unfolding in several Indian States and UTs.
As of now the production capacity of M/S RSS Gases, Bari Brahmana is 2310 cubic meters (Cum) per day and it had an opening stock of 210 cylinders on 23 April. M/S Valley Minerals & Chemicals, Bari Brahmana has production capacity of 1750 Cum per day. It also had the opening stock of 210 cylinders on April 23.
M/S Kashmir Gases Bari Brahmana has a production capacity of 2597 Cum per day. Its opening stock on 23 April was 1456 cylinders. Production capacity of M/S Allied Gases Bari Brahmana is 840 Cum per day.
M/S R.S. Cryogenic Bari Brahmana has a capacity of 2800 Cum and it had an opening stock of 420 cylinders on 23 April. M/S Global Gas Udhampur has production capacity of 1540 Cum per day with the opening stock of 993 cylinders. M/S Kay Kay Gases Kathua has production capacity of 2450 Cum per day and it had an opening stock of 350 cylinders on 23 April.
Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO), formerly known as Department of Explosives of the Union Petroleum Ministry has, as a special case, authorised the industrial oxygen manufacturers across the country to manufacture oxygen for medical use in view of the countrywide gas crisis. On 22 April, PESO issued a Circular, changing SOPs for conversion of industrial oxygen cylinders and inert gas cylinders (Nitrogen, Argon & Helium only) to medical oxygen cylinders in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
"The Industrial gas cylinders filling units covered under License Form E&F of the Gas Cylinder Rules 2016 may convert their industrial and inert gas cylinders to Medical Oxygen Cylinders in the endeavour of national interest", says the PESO Circular. It has given a set of SOPs for conversion of the cylinders which has to be strictly adhered to. All such cylinders are required to be degassed.
Even as some people have complained that their family members battling Covid-19 died due to non-availability of the medical oxygen at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar, authorities are enquiring if any patient had really died for want of oxygen. Senior officials maintained that all necessary infrastructures were being put in place to ensure that nobody suffered for want of a bed, ventilator, oxygen or medicines. A major indoor sports stadium in Srinagar was on Monday converted into a Covid hospital.