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MUMBAI : State-run Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) has started free supply of 150 metric tonnes of oxygen to hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, it said in a statement on Monday.

The move follows the government’s decision to prohibit the supply of oxygen for industrial use, barring nine select sectors, by manufacturers from 22 April in view of the shortage of medical oxygen across hospitals amid a spike in covid-related casualties.

“The first batch of the lifesaver medical grade oxygen was dispatched today to Maha Durga Charitable Trust Hospital, New Delhi. Delhi is already facing an oxygen emergency situation," IOC added.

Given the shortage of medical oxygen, Indian Railways is also planning to transport liquid medical oxygen (LMO) and oxygen cylinders across key corridors on Oxygen Express trains. “In the face of a massive surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave of the pandemic, Indian Oil has diverted the high-purity oxygen used in its mono ethylene glycol unit to produce medical-grade liquid oxygen at its Panipat refinery and petrochemical complex," IOC added.

State-owned Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd on Monday said it will be diverting 100 metric tonnes of oxygen produced at its refineries. “BPCL, the second-largest oil marketing company, has started supply of 100 metric tonnes of oxygen at no cost, to various hospitals in view of the shortage of the same for critical patients of covid-19," it said.

With India facing a very severe covid-19 second wave, its creaking healthcare system has yet again been exposed, leading to shortages of oxygen, vaccines, testing kits, hospital bed and ICUs.

On 15 April, BPCL had said that it will supply medical oxygen from its Kochi refinery to government hospitals in Kerala. The company will supply 1.5 tonnes per day of oxygen to government hospitals from this facility. It had supplied 25 tonnes of medical oxygen in October-November, when the daily cases were on a rise.

Kalpana Pathak from Mumbai contributed to this story.

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