Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday sought the immediate intervention of both, the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, to ensure uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen to the state, along with additional allocation of 50 MT LMO from a nearby source and 20 additional tankers (preferably conducive to rail travel) for timely evacuation of LMO from Bokaro.
The Chief Minister sent out separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, as the number of Covid patients on varying levels of oxygen support in the state went up to 10000.
Expressing deep concern over the imminent loss of lives due to oxygen shortage across the state, the Chief Minister said with mounting caseload, he was unable to increase Level 2 and Level 3 beds due to oxygen availability constraints. The state was facing the prospect of shortage of oxygen beds, he said, pointing out that the Government of India had expressed its inability to even allow Punjab’s local industry to undertake commercial import of LMO from Pakistan through the Wagah-Attari border, which is geographically proximate. Further, despite assurance that “adequate supply would be ensured to us from alternate sources, I regret to point out that this has not happened”, said Captain Amarinder.
The total allocation of LMO from outside the state is currently 195 MT, of which 90 MT is from Bokaro in eastern India. The balance 105 MT comes from LMO facilities in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. However, Punjab is not getting its daily allocated quota, said the Chief Minister. The existing backlog for Punjab from these LMO facilities is 5.6 MT from Panipat (Haryana), 100 MT from Sela Qui, Dehradun (Uttarakhand) and 10 MT from Roorkee, he added.
Pointing out that Punjab had now been given to understand by the Centre that there would be likely disruption of LMO supply from today from Panipat and Barotiwala, the Chief Minister said this would cause great stress on the already limited oxygen availability in the state, thus causing a medical emergency, including risk of loss of life for the large number of patients who are in critical condition and on regular oxygen support. The disruption should be avoided, he said, adding that, if necessary, the state must be compensated immediately from a nearby additional source.
Referring to the shortage of tankers, the Chief Minister said the state was airlifting two empty tankers daily to Ranchi, with the filled tankers returning by road from Bokaro on a 48-50 hours journey. The Chief Minister said that the state government had already requested the GoI to allocate 20 additional tankers (conducive to rail travel) to allow for regular evacuation of 90 MT LMO from Bokaro on a daily basis, but had been told that only two would be provided, and even those were yet to come.
He urged the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to step in immediately to help resolve the major crisis.