PM reviews progress of converting nitrogen plants to produce oxygen
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reviewed the progress of conversion of existing nitrogen plants to produce oxygen — a feasibility explored by the Centre considering the requirement of medical oxygen amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Centre has identified more than two dozen nitrogen generation plants for production of medical oxygen.
“In order to ramp up oxygen supplies, the government is working on converting nitrogen plants into oxygen plants. Potential industries where current nitrogen plants could be spared, are being identified and converted,” the Prime Minister tweeted after the review meeting.
The process of converting the existing Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) nitrogen plants for production of oxygen was discussed in the meeting, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
In the nitrogen plants Carbon Molecular Sieve (CMS) is used whereas Zeolite Molecular Sieve (ZMS) is required for producing oxygen. Therefore, by replacing CMS with ZMS and carrying out a few other changes such as oxygen analyzer, control panel system and flow valves, existing nitrogen plants can be modified to produce oxygen.
“On deliberation with the industries, so far 14 industries have been identified where conversion of plants is under progress. Further 37 nitrogen plants have been also identified with the help of industry associations,” said the statement.
A nitrogen plant modified for the production of oxygen can be either shifted to a nearby hospital or, in case it is not feasible to shift the plant, it can be used for on-site production of oxygen, which can be be transported to hospital through specialized vessels or cylinders.
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary, Secretary Road Transport and Highways and other senior officials participated in the meeting.
Oxygen produced in on-site plants has to be compressed and filled in cylinders or special vessels using high pressure compressor for transporting to hospitals.
Facilitation is being provided to these industries for completion of work at the earliest.
The Centre had earlier asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which has a comprehensive data base of industrial units, to identify the industries having spare nitrogen plants and explore the feasibility of converting existing nitrogen plants to produce oxygen.
The CPCB with the help of the State Pollution Control Boards has identified such potential industries, wherein existing nitrogen generation plants may be spared for production of oxygen.
In this regard, consultations have been held with potential industrial units and experts.
The Centre’s step comes as India has been hit by a devastating wave of Covid infections — the daily new cases crossed the four-lakh mark on Saturday and 3,92,488 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Sunday morning. The surge in cases has left hospitals overwhelmed, doctors traumatised, and resources like beds, medicines and oxygen in perilously short supply.
The scale of the crisis has prompted the global community to step in with oxygen concentrators, tankers and other equipment being flown in by the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the European Union and other countries.
PM Modi reviews usage of gaseous oxygen for medical purposes
In line with his direction of exploring innovative ways to ramp up supply and availability of Oxygen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday chaired a meeting to review the usage of gaseous oxygen.
Prime Minister Modi tweeted, “Took stock of the usage of gaseous oxygen produced by industry, for medical purposes, with adjacent temporary hospitals.”
Many industries like steel plants, refineries with petrochemical units, industries using rich combustion process and power plants have oxygen plants which produce gaseous oxygen which can be tapped for medical use.
The strategy being used is to identify industrial units which produce gaseous oxygen of requisite purity, shortlist those which are closer to cities or dense areas or demand centres and establish temporary Covid care centres with oxygenated beds near that source.
A pilot for five such facilities had already been initiated and there is good progress on this. This is being accomplished through Public Sector Units or private industries operating the plant and co-ordination of centre and state governments.
It is expected that around 10,000 oxygenated beds can be made available in a short period of time by making temporary hospitals near such plants.
State governments are being encouraged to set up more such facilities with oxygenated beds to deal with the pandemic.
The Prime Minister also reviewed progress on setting up of PSA plants.
When the Prime Minister was informed that around 1,500 PSA plants are in the process of being set up through contribution of PM CARES, PSUs and others, Modi directed officials to ensure speedy completion of these plants.
Principal Secretary to PM, Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary, Secretary Road Transport and Highways and other senior officials participated in the meeting.
The meeting was held at a time when there is hue and cry across the country due to shortage of oxygen– a life-saving gas.
Jaishankar rebuts Jairam Ramesh over oxygen ‘shortage’ in embassies
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Sunday took on the Congress, which had attempted to project that the Central government had collapsed and foreign embassies were reaching out to the opposition for help with their Covid-19 medical emergencies.
On Sunday, the New Zealand Embassy in New Delhi tweeted an SOS tagging youth leaders of the Congress, saying, “Could you please help with oxygen cylinder urgently at the New Zealand High Commission? Thank you.”
Youth Congress president B.V. Srinivas responded to the request and tweeted an hour later saying, “We have reached New Zealand High Commission with oxygen cylinders. Please open the gates and save a soul on time.”
However, the New Zealand Embassy apologized soon after, saying, “We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.”
The apology came after Jaishankar rebutted Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who had on Saturday accused the government of being completely dysfunctional and unresponsive towards medical emergency at the Philippines Embassy.
On Saturday, the Indian Youth Congress had tweeted a video claiming that its members were providing medical emergency services at the Embassy of the Philippines in New Delhi.
Ramesh tweeted the video, saying, “While I thank @IYC for its stellar efforts, as an Indian citizen I’m stunned that the youth wing of the opposition party is attending to SOS calls from foreign embassies. Is the MEA sleeping @DrSJaishankar?”
To this, Jaishankar tweeted on Sunday morning, “MEA checked with the Philippines Embassy. This was an unsolicited supply as they had no Covid cases. Clearly for cheap publicity by you know who. Giving away cylinders like this when there are people in desperate need of oxygen is simply appalling. Jairamji, MEA never sleeps; our people know across the world. MEA also never fakes; we know who does.”
First Oxygen Express reaches Hyderabad from Odisha
The first Oxygen Express for Telangana, with five tankers loaded with 124.26 tonnes of liquid oxygen, arrived at Secunderabad Railway Station here on Sunday from Angul in Odisha.
The five empty tankers were sent from Secunderabad on April 28 and after getting filled with liquid oxygen, commenced their journey back to Secunderabad on Saturday.
According to the South Central Railway (SCR), the liquid oxygen being transported in these tanks is a cryogenic cargo which has many limitations like maximum speed at which it can be carried, maximum acceleration and deceleration and loading restrictions like availability of liquid oxygen tankers, loading ramps etc. The route mapping of the train along with green corridor is done taking in to consideration of all these factors including ensuring adequate clearance along the route in terms of curves, RoBs and FOBs, etc.
The Oxygen Express trains have been started by the Indian Railways to provide safe, secure, hassle-free and fast transportation of oxygen to the different parts of the country during these critical times.
Under this initiative, the road tankers (both empty as well as loaded) are transported by the railways through Ro-Ro (Roll on-Roll Off) service. The Oxygen Express trains are operated at the request of the state governments. While the states provide the tankers, the Railways undertake to bring the oxygen supplies to the requisitioning state in fastest feasible mode.
Accordingly, SCR has been operating these trains to meet the needs of the states. The Zone has operated two empty Oxygen Express trains from Secunderabad, with five empty tankers each. The second one had left on Saturday.
SCR General Manager Gajanan Mallya has assured that the Railways will continue to provide utmost priority to the running of the Oxygen Express trains. Any request received on this front will be immediately processed so as to operate the trains at the earliest. He advised all officers and staff to maintain continuous monitoring of the movement of this train along the green corridor.
Railways to deliver 120 MT of medical oxygen to Delhi
In a big relief to the people of Delhi, the Indian Railways has said that one Oxygen Express will arrive in the national capital with 120 MT of medical oxygen on Sunday afternoon.
Northern railway spokesperson Deepak Kumar said that one container train with six cryogenic liquid oxygen containers loaded over BLC wagons started from Durgapur to Delhi at 2 p.m. on Saturday and is expected to reach Tughlakabad ICD on Sunday afternoon i.e. at around 1 p.m.
Several hospitals in the national capital have been sending SOS to the city government over the scarcity of medical oxygen. On Saturday at least 12 people including a doctor died due to lack of oxygen at Batra hospital in south Delhi.
Railways to deliver more medical oxygen to Uttar Pradesh
Even as several hospital in the national capital are battling the less supply of medical oxygen, the indian Railways on Saturday said that its Oxygen Express trains will deliver a record of 250 MT of LMO to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana by Sunday morning.
A railway ministry spokesperson said that the national transporter has accelerated the pace of delivering liquid medical oxygen to various states across the country.
He said that Indian Railways has delivered 813 MT of LMO in 56 tankers to various states across the country.
He added that 14 Oxygen Express have already completed their journey and five more loaded Oxygen Express are on the run carrying 342 MT of LMO in 18 tankers.
The official said that Haryana received its first and second Oxygen Express on Saturday carrying 79 MT of LMO in five tankers.
Third Oxygen Express carrying 30.6 MT LMO in 2 tankers has already started from Angul and currently on its way to Haryana.
He said that Madhya Pradesh received its second Oxygen Express carrying 70.77 MT of LMO to Jabalpur and Sagar from Jharkhand’s Bokaro on Friday.
The official said that third Oxygen Express to Jabalpur carrying 22.19 MT Oxygen Express is on its way from Odisha’s Rourkela and is expected to reach Jabalpur by tonight.
The official also said that Uttar Pradesh will be receiving its eighth Oxygen Express en-route from Bokaro carrying 44.88 MT LMO in three tankers. Uttar Pradesh has received approximately 355 MT LMO so far and more is on its way to Lucknow.
Tye official said that so far, Indian Railways has delivered more than 813 metric tonnes liquid medical oxygen (LMO) to Maharashtra (174 MT), Uttar Pradesh (355 MT), Madhya Pradesh (134.77 MT), Delhi (70 MT) and Haryana (79 MT).
Defence shipyard to provide medical oxygen supply to Goa: MoS Defence
Goa Shipyard Limited, a Defence Ministry shipyard, will aid the state government in providing the oxygen for Covid-19 patients with the help of its ‘Onsite Oxygen Generating Plant’, Union Minister of State for Defence Shirpad Naik said in a statement on Friday.
“The proposed oxygen plant will generate medical oxygen at the rate of 960 litre per minute and will be set-up within a month by GSL,” Naik said.
The minister also said that considering the urgent need for medical oxygen, the shipyard was also providing 40 oxygen concentrators to the state government.
Goa has witnessed an unprecedented rise in Covid-19 cases in the state and the positivity rate in the state has crossed 51 per cent.
Goa currently has 20,898 active Covid-19 cases, while 1,146 persons have died in the state following coronavirus-related complications.
PMO directs health ministry to provide 150 ventilators to Sardar Patel Covid Centre
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Saturday directed the Union health ministry to provide 150 ventilators to Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre (SPCCC) at city’s south Delhi-based Chhatarpur area.
The facility was provided following request of Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Director General S.S. Deswal who had sought allocation of 150 ventilators for addressing to the needs of critical patients at the SPCCC.
In a letter to Joint Secretary Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF) Mandeep Bhandari, Prime Minister’s Advisor Bhaskar Kulbe said: “As discussed with you, 150 ventilators provided under PM CARES Trust Fund, and embedded with GPS enabled devices, may be provided from the available stock on loan basis for a period of six months now, which, if necessary, may be extended further on review.”
“I also request you to organise immediate installation of these ventilators by the selected vendors (s).”
Kulbe also said to advice SPCCC for the site preparation and necessary training of these ventilators by the selected vendors.
In the letter, it was also directed to inform the Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan about the decision.
There is a ward of 500 oxygen beds at the SPCCC where around 400 Covid-19 patients are presently admitted.
Health Ministry issues revised guidelines for home isolation, warns against Remdesivir use
The decision to administer Remdesivir or use any other investigational therapy must be taken by a medical professional and the drug must be administered only in a hospital setting, said the ‘Revised guidelines for home isolation of mild/asymptomatic Covid-19 cases’ issued by the Union Health Ministry on Thursday.
“Do not attempt to procure or administer Remdesivir at home,” the revised guidelines said.
The guidelines said that systemic oral steroids are not indicated in mild disease and if symptoms persist beyond seven days (persistent fever, worsening cough etc.), one should consult the treating doctor for treatment with low dose oral steroids.
“In case of falling oxygen saturation or shortness of breath, the person should require hospital admission and seek immediate consultation of his/her treating physician/surveillance team,” the revised guidelines said.
For the treatment of asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms under home isolation, the revised guidelines said, “Patients to follow symptomatic management for fever, running nose and cough, as warranted. Patients may perform warm water gargles or take steam inhalation twice a day.”
“If fever is not controlled with a maximum dose of Paracetamol 650 mg four times a day, consult the treating doctor who may consider advising other drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (ex: Tab. Naproxen 250 mg twice a day). Consider Tab Ivermectin (200 mcg/kg once a day, to be taken empty stomach) for three to five days,” the guidelines said.
AInhalational Budesonide (given via inhalers with spacer at a dose of 800 mcg twice daily for five to seven days) to be given if symptoms (fever and/or cough) are persistent beyond five days of disease onset, they added.
The guidelines said that a patient or a caregiver will keep monitoring the health and seek immediate medical attention if serious signs or symptoms develop.
“These could include difficulty in breathing, dip in oxygen saturation (SpO2
The guidelines added that a patient in home isolation will stand discharged and end isolation after at least 10 days have passed from the onset of symptoms (or from the date of sampling for asymptomatic cases) and no fever for three days. There is no need for testing after the home isolation period is over.