Kolkata: ITC on Saturday said it has tied up with Linde India Ltd to airfreight 24 cryogenic 20-tonne containers from Asian countries to transport medical oxygen.
There is a major shortage of cryogenic containers and cylinders in the country. Industry experts feel that increasing oxygen production is not that big a challenge compared to other infrastructure bottlenecks.
ITC said in a statement its initiative came in the wake of an acute shortage of medical oxygen across the country, constraining the healthcare system’s ability to provide necessary medical care to Covid-19 patients.
With the unprecedented emergency caused by the pandemic’s second wave, there has been an exponential rise in demand for medical oxygen, which is the most critical need at this hour to save lives. ITC said it is also airlifting large numbers of oxygen concentrators for distribution, while its paperboards unit in Bhadrachalam has started supply of oxygen to neighbouring areas.
Stating that it is committed to support the government in its fight against the pandemic, ITC said it will “continue to explore other avenues to help address the challenges emerging during these trying times”.
In India, oxygen production per day was 56,000-60,000 tonnes per day. This includes oxygen for cylinder, pipeline and in liquid form. As per available data, from 2016-19, the oxygen consumption for medical purposes was 1,600-2,000 tonnes per day.
“There has been a surge in oxygen demand to 10,000 tonnes per day in 2020 though compared to overall capacity of production, it was still nearly 20%. Now even if we see a further surge, it should not be alarming. But the real problem would be other infrastructure,” an expert added.
Several other experts suggested that cylinders for medical oxygen were in limited supply coupled with cryogenic tankers for transportation of oxygen.