Oxygen shortage: It is hand-to-mouth existence, says Punjab health minister

Sidhu said, "We are just hand-to-mouth in terms of oxygen supply to various hospitals of Punjab. We get around 105 MT oxygen from other states, which is coming in limited quantities. We are trying our best."

WITH Punjab’s total oxygen requirement set to touch 300 MT, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu has once against flagged the crisis saying that the state has a hand-to-mouth existence in terms of O2 supply.

Punjab’s in-house production stands at only 32 MT.

Sidhu said, “We are just hand-to-mouth in terms of oxygen supply to various hospitals of Punjab. We get around 105 MT oxygen from other states, which is coming in limited quantities. We are trying our best.”

“It is a day to day affair. We keep on interacting with doctors and hence, patients are admitted as per the availability of oxygen in a particular hospital,” said Dr Kuldeep Singh, president Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab.

Sources revealed that in Bathinda, a private hospital on Namdev road had to turn down patients because of shortage of oxygen, while a 60-year-old woman of Paras Ram Nagar from the city had to go to Bikaner after she was refused admission in 7 hospitals in Bathinda. The woman died in Bikaner on Thursday morning, revealed sources.

However Bathinda DC B Srinivasan said, “We are providing oxygen to all hospitals as per the requirements. There is no crisis as of now.”

Meanwhile, Ludhiana is also dealing with day to day requirements, though it is still in a comfortable position compared to other districts. Amit Bambey, nodal officer for oxygen supplies in Ludhiana, said, “Before Covid period, the requirement of oxygen by small private hospitals was only 300 cylinders which has now reached 2,800 per day. They are taking this supply from the suppliers as before, however district administration is monitoring it. Big hospitals are managing on their own by getting liquid medical oxygen from companies where they have their annual contracts. So, apart from managing our own oxygen supplies, we provided 450 cylinders to Amritsar, Sangrur and Barnala on Wednesday, while 100 cylinders were provided to Amritsar on Thursday. But yes, it is day to day management of supplies as demand has increased so much.”

Meanwhile, C Sibin, Director industries department, Punjab said, “Two closed oxygen plants in Muktsar and Nangal will also be operational by next week.”

The Health Minister stated that the situation will be comfortable after that.

Limited supplies are coming from Haryana and Himachal to refilling units even now, while Punjab government says that their oxygen tankers are also on the way from Bokaro Steel Plant, which are likely to reach Punjab on Friday.

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