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Private players to boost oxygen capacity in Delhi

The Delhi government on Tuesday approved the Medical Oxygen Production Promotion policy 2021 which aims to make the national capital self-reliant in the production of medical oxygen for medical emergencies in the future by incentivising private enterprises that invest on production, transportation and storage of medical oxygen broadly through power subsidies and tax reimbursements.

The policy was drafted after Delhi faced a severe crisis of medical oxygen during its fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic – also the worst so far – in April this year, said chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi Cabinet approved the Medical Oxygen Production Promotion Policy 2021, along with the provision for incentives for the production of medical oxygen. This policy is part of the Delhi government’s rigorous effort to make Delhi self-reliant in the production of medical oxygen to meet any medical emergency in the future,” said a statement issued by the CM’s office after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Kejriwal said in the statement, “The Medical Oxygen Production Promotion Policy 2021 provides several incentives to the Pvt. sector to set up oxygen production plants, storage facilities, and oxygen tankers… This policy will help improve oxygen availability in Delhi, which became a huge bottleneck in handling the last Covid-19 wave.”

A senior government official said that the policy is likely to be notified later this month.

The statement said the objectives of the policy are “to make Delhi self-reliant in terms of medical oxygen production and supply” which the government aims to achieve by encouraging the setting up new manufacturing enterprises and expanding the production capacity of existing ones for “uninterrupted oxygen supply” to hospitals and nursing homes and “to facilitate storage and transportation of medical oxygen in Delhi”.

Last month, lieutenant governor (L-G) Anil Baijal reviewed the progress of 160 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants in the city which are supposed to be installed in both public sector and private sector hospitals this year and collectively have a capacity of producing more than 148 MT medical oxygen per day. While 66 PSA plants, including 17 under PM-CARES fund, are being set up in Delhi government-run hospitals, 10 are being installed in central Government, and 84 in private hospitals.

“Of the 66 plants in Delhi government hospitals, 36 PSA plants have been commissioned, three are ready and the remaining are expected to be commissioned by August 31. In the Central government hospitals, six out of 10 plants have been commissioned, and the remaining are to be commissioned by August 15. In private hospitals, 37 out of 84 plants have been commissioned while work is in progress on the remaining 47,” said a senior government official, adding, “At least 34 PSA oxygen plants are likely to be commissioned in different hospitals in the city by October 31.”

In April, Delhi witnessed an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases which left the healthcare infrastructure overwhelmed. At its peak, Delhi added a daily average of 25,294 new Covid-19 cases for the seven days ending April 23. A severe crisis of medical oxygen turned the situation worse. Hindustan Times