India's battle against the second wave of coronavirus has seen an acute shortage of medical oxygen which has pushed the hospitals in the country to the edge. In a bid to ramp up oxygen capacity and strengthen the supply chain, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has formed a Task Force on Oxygen Supply Chain.
The task force will work with the central and state governments to augment oxygen supply by working on domestic capacity enhancement and imports; logistical issues between States including issues of transportation, non-availability of cylinders; and policy-level interventions.
Majors corporates including Tata Group, Reliance Industries Limited, JSW Group, Adani, ITC, and Jindal Steel and Power have come forward to help hospitals treating COVID-19 patients by supplying medical oxygen, cryogenic vessels, portable concentrators and generators.
“The biggest bottleneck is the shortage of cryogenic containers. Tatas are importing 36 cryogenic vessels by this month-end. Tata Steel is also supplying over 600 MT medical oxygen from its plants to hospitals," said T V Narendran, President-Designate, CII.
JSW Steel is also currently supplying 1,000 tonnes per day and plans to ramp up further. The total supply from all its plants across the country, viz Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in April 2021 is expected to be over 20,000 tonnes of liquid oxygen.
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The chairman of the Taskforce is Seshagiri Rao MVS, Joint Managing Director and Group CFO, JSW Steel.
Narendran said the government has already come up with a tender to import 50,000 MT of liquid oxygen. He also mentioned the critical propositions the task force has presented to the government, like using direct vessels to import the liquid oxygen, removing logistical bottlenecks, reducing the transit-time, faster unloading of containers, ensuring speedy clearances and transport to the destinations through green corridors, and augmenting capacity to produce additional oxygen using supercritical process.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is also supplying 700 MT liquid medical oxygen per day to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Daman, Diu & Nagar Haveli.
In addition, ITC is airlifting 24 cryogenic ISO containers, each with 20 tonnes capacity. It is also exploring the imports of a large number of oxygen concentrators as well as generators for distribution. ITC's paperboards unit in Bhadrachalam has already commenced supply of oxygen to identified government hospitals in the state.
Adani Group is importing 4 ISO cryogenic tanks with 80 MT liquid oxygen from Saudi Arabia. ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India is supplying 220 MT of liquid oxygen per day to Gujarat. Jindal Steel & Power Ltd is supplying 80 to 100 MT per day to various states and can enhance the capacity to 150 MT per day provided the lifting is increased.(Disclaimer: MoneyControl is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.)