Special ‘Oxygen Express’ trains to transport the Liquid Medical Oxygen;The Use Of Industrial Oxygen restricted to nine industries

By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, April 19:

Given an unprecedented surge in the new daily cases of COVID and resultant heavy demand for Medical Oxygen, the Indian Railway ministry has decided to press in service the Special ‘Oxygen Express’ trains for transport of liquid medical oxygen(LMO).
While Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have already been facing an acute shortage of oxygen, Delhi was added to the list when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded an uninterrupted daily supply of 700 MT oxygen on Sunday. Six patients reportedly died due to want of oxygen at Government Medical College at Shahadol in Madhya Pradesh early on Sunday.
The Maharashtra, with active case load of 6.70 lakh cases and having maximum production of 1250 MT, began acquiring additional 150 MT from Gujarat and 50 MT from Chhatisgarh, in view of the increasing demand.
In view the increasing demand from different states, the Railways Ministry has geared up to transport LMO and oxygen cylinders across the key corridors and to run Oxygen Express. A Green Corridor is being created for fast movement of oxygen express trains, to reach the oxygen in bulk and rapidly to patients, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted on Sunday.
Besides, leading the fight against COVID-19, a facility with 50 COVID-19 isolation coaches with 800 beds has been set up at Shakur Basti Station. Also, 25 coaches are being made available at Anand Vihar Station in Delhi. Railways can set up 3 lakh isolation beds across the country on States’ demand, Goyal said.
In another tweet, the Indian Railways said “Indian Railways is making all-out efforts for fighting COVID-19 and isolation coaches have started functioning at Nandurbar in Maharashtra. These coaches at Nandurbar, are covered with layered gunnies and water drip system for lowering the temperature”.
With the requirement of oxygen witnessing manifold hike, the Union Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has conveyed that the demand for oxygen has already reached about 60 percent of the total daily Oxygen production, and is expected to rise further. The Empowered Group-II (EG-II) headed by Secretary, DPIIT is mandated by the government to manage requisite supplies of medical equipment and drugs including medical oxygen across the country, the Union Health Ministry stated.
To bring in the oxygen, 10 empty tankers were despatched on Monday on a Roll-on-Roll-of basis from Kalamboli (Navi Mumbai) and Boisar (Palghar district) in Maharashtra to Visakhapatnam(Andhra Pradesh), Jamshedpur and Bokaro (Jharkhand) and Rourkela(Odisha). They will return after gas filling at these sites. The tankers will be mounted on railway wagons. Since the height between the tracks and upper corridor is less at some places, the tankers with 3320 mm height (model T 1618) are being used to avoid bottlenecks in transit. As part of a trial, a few DBKM wagons and one oxygen-filled tanker (T 1618) were brought to Kalmboli goods shed on April 15 and the tests were carried out. Similar tests were also carried out at Boisar and other places on Sunday.
A meeting between the railway board officials, Maharashtra Transport Commissioner, and other representatives was held on Saturday in which it was decided that the transportation of tankers will be looked after by the Maharashtra transport commissioner. It was also agreed that the Maharashtra Transport Secretary will provide the required tankers by Monday, the railway officials stated.
The supply of Oxygen for industrial purposes prohibited
In another significant development, the Union Government on Sunday decided to prohibit the supply of Oxygen for industrial purposes by manufacturers and suppliers from April 22 onwards till further orders.

The matter was deliberated by the DPIIT with all the stakeholders and after due deliberations, it was considered prudent to restrict the industrial usage of oxygen to meet the rising demand for medical oxygen. The surplus oxygen available up as a result of this temporary restriction will facilitate it’s freeing up for use as medical oxygen for treatment of COVID19 patients, DPIIT stated.
The exception
This prohibition, however, shall not apply to the supply of oxygen to the following nine industries: the manufacturers of Ampoules and Vials, Pharmaceuticals, Petroleum refineries, Steel plants, Nuclear energy facilities, Oxygen cylinder manufacturers, Wastewater treatment plants, Food and water purification and process industries which require the uninterrupted operation of furnaces, processes, etc. as approved by respective State governments.
The industrial units, other than those listed above, which would not be in a position to obtain oxygen are advised to consider alternate measures such as import of Oxygen or setting up their own Air Separator Units (ASU) for generation of Oxygen for their captive requirements. The Union Health Ministry has advised all Chief Secretaries to ensure effective implementation and compliance of this Order.


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