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Window Seat: Why are we facing Oxygen crisis?

2/05/2021 at 7:23 AM

With a capacity of producing over 9000 metric ton of medical oxygen per day hospitals in India should not face oxygen crisis. But the ground reality is different. People are desperately searching for oxygen.

Why are we facing this crisis?

To understand, we need to know about the production and distribution of oxygen.

Oxygen is mainly produced for different industries including steel plants. There are several stand-alone liquid oxygen plants owned by gas companies like Linde and Innox where they produce liquid oxygen and sell to various customers through tankers and tanks. Several refillers around country buy liquid oxygen from gas companies and fill gas cylinders after vapourisingit.

Oxygen is generally delivered to end user by three means. Directly through pipe line from plant to end user (about 80 per cent oxygen gets transported this way). About fifteen per cent or so is delivered in liquid form through tanks and tankers and less than 5 per cent through cylinders.

Medical oxygen is high-purity oxygen, which is used for medical treatments and developed for use in the human body. Plants producing oxygen can produce medical oxygen. In normal timesless than one per cent of oxygen production capacity is used for medical purposes.

India does not have a shortage of oxygen production facilities and plants.The problem is reaching the medical oxygen to the patients who need it.

Shortage of distribution assets like road tankers, storage tanks and cylinders is one major problem. These are expensive. Each road tanker costs over Rs45 lakhon road and a cylinder costs around 10,000 in which one can sell oxygen just worth Rs 300. These assets have been built by gas companies, refillers and hospitals based on normal times. There is only that much one can do with these assets.

The second important aspect is logistics management. Most of Plants that produce oxygen are located in select geographies. So, distribution assets travel fair distance (200-1000 kms) to deliver to customer. Now even with good roads a tanker takes around 7-10 days to make a round trip and a cylinder also takes that much turn-around time.

The oxygen crisis happened because of the sudden and unprecedented surge of corona cases and also the sudden increase of patients requiring oxygen support. The National Clinical Covid-19 Registry has identified a key data point: 54.5 per cent, or more than one out of two people admitted in hospitals, need oxygen support during treatment this time. This is a 13.4 percentage point increase from last year’s peak during September and November, according to data from 40 centres across the country.

The sudden surge of patients, sudden increase in the number of patients requiring oxygen and the distribution bottlenecks- aggravated the problem.

We now need to learn from the crisis and be ready. Instead of establishing large number of oxygen plants- we need to focus on delivery logistics management and oxygen readiness at hospital and care centres.  

Manoj Das

Manoj Das, one of the finest litterateurs of contemporary India left for his heavenly abode on 27 April at Puducherry. He was 87.

Born at a small coastal village of Shankari in Balasore district of Odisha he started writing early. His first collection of poems SatabdiraArtanada came out when he was 15. He went on to write short stories and novels both in Odia and English. Among his anthology of stories and novels are: Cyclones (1987), AmrutaraPhala (1996, which won him SaraswatiSamman), Prabhanjana, GodhuliraBagha, Abu Purusha.He did serious research on the history of freedom struggle of India and wrote several books. He also wrote several engaging travelogues.

He was a Marxist in his young days, who meandered in to mysticism of Aurobindo in his late twenties.He was by miles the best bilingual writer that Odisha has produced,who wrote on human sufferings in the villages of his state,but layered them with fantasy and satire in a magnificent style. Graham Greene compared him with RK Narayan ,’ with perhaps an added mystery’.

Manoj Das had a refined sense of humour, which he often used in his writing. He had the rare ability (like RamkrishnaParamhansa) to illustrate and explain a complex philosophical points through anecdotes and analogies.

“Marx’s Dialectical Materialism and Aurobindo’s inscrutable mysticism, coalesced to make Manoj Das one of the greatest humanist writers , spirited crusader for the poor and raconteur par excellence.Odisha fecundated him , Pondicherry nurtured him ,and literature catapulted him. He is Sui generis– in a class by itself”, wrote Noted academician Prof. S.N. Misra.

Caricature byKamalakantaRath

Satyajit Ray@100

History has a queer sense of humour. Consider this: Satyajit Ray’s hundredth birthday coincides with the counting day of West Bengal: May 2, 2021.A month-long eight phase election process and high-decibel, toxic electioneering during the worst pandemic that the country has ever experienced – seems incongruous when one looks at Ray, who epitomizes reason and civility.

Born into an illustrious family of litterateurs, artists, inventors and entrepreneurs- Ray was naturally drawn towards visual and plastic arts.

Starting his career as a commercial artist, he was drawn into film making after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London.

Ray’s first film, PatherPanchali(1955), which he made at an age of 34,  won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at Cannes Film Festival (1956). This film, along with Aparajito(1956) and ApurSansar  (1959), form The Apu Trilogy. Ray did the scripting, scoring and editing, and designed the publicity material.

Ray received many major awards in his career, including 32 National Film Awards, a Golden Lion, a Golden Bear, 2 Silver Bears and several other awards at international film festivals and ceremonies. He received an Academy Honourary Award in 1992. He was bestowed with the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India, in 1992.

Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. He was also a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, graphic designer and film critic. He authored several short stories and novels, primarily for young children and teenagers.

In 1980 he made a film tilted HirakRajarDeshe (Kingdom of Diamonds), apparently a children’s fantasy drama. However it had several layers.

As author BhaskarChattopadhay writes: At its core, then, HirakRajarDeshe is much more than a children’s film. It is, by far, one of the best satires against state oppression that the Indian film industry has ever produced. It was relevant then, way back in 1980, and it is relevant even today, and will continue to be so, over the years – reminding us, again and again, that every time an evil king attempts to exploit the farmers, the labourers and the rest of the very people who make the kingdom a kingdom of diamonds, the common man will rise in rebellion, and pull him down.

On his hundredth birthday, as the counting begins in West Bengal- it merits a re-watch.

Don’t talk

I came across a couplet in a social media forward, which seemed relevant to the present cacophonous time.



Moun se jyadakimti ho

Don’t talk.

Or, say something

more valuable than the silence.

(Translated from original Hindi: MrinalChatterjee)

Courtesy: Social Media

About the Author:

Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. Odia translation of an anthology of essays titled Mahatma Gandhi: Journalist and Editor.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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