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Indian companies are stepping in to fill the gaps in India’s healthcare infrastructure, crumbling under an explosion of covid-19 cases, supplying medical oxygen, cryogenic vessels, and oxygen concentrators. The Tata group, Reliance Industries Ltd, JSW Group, Adani group, ITC Ltd, and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd are among many top Indian companies helping hospitals with emergency supplies.

On Tuesday, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) formed a task force to work with central and state governments to raise oxygen supply through capacity enhancement and imports. It will also look into logistics issues related to transport, cylinder availability and policy-level interventions.

T.V. Narendran, president-designate, CII, and chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Steel Ltd, said, “There is a dire need to increase the availability of oxygen and address logistical issues in transporting oxygen across the country. The biggest bottleneck is the shortage of cryogenic containers. Tatas are importing 36 cryogenic vessels by this month-end. Tata Steel is also supplying over 600 metric tonnes medical oxygen from its plants to hospitals".

JSW Steel said it is supplying 1,000 tonnes of oxygen per day and plans to ramp it up further. Seshagiri Rao M.V.S., who chairs the CII task force and is joint managing director and group chief financial officer of JSW Steel Ltd, said the task force has proposed to use direct vessels to import liquid oxygen and remove logistics hurdles to reduce transit time, ensure speedy clearances and transport to the destinations through green corridors and augment capacity to produce additional oxygen using supercritical processes.

Reliance Industries is supplying liquid medical oxygen of over 700 tonnes per day to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Daman, Diu and Nagar Haveli. The company plans to scale this up to 1,000 tonnes.

E-commerce giant Amazon India has tied up with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation and the Pune Platform for covid-19 Response (PPCR) and others to urgently airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines from Singapore, the company said on Monday.

The equipment will be donated to hospitals and public institutions to augment their capacity to help covid-19 infected patients across multiple cities.

Amazon said it will bear the cost of airlifting these oxygen concentrators and BiPAP machines, procured through multiple funders.

Tata group-owned airline Vistara has offered help to government organizations and hospitals in immediate need of air logistics. The airline has also offered to fly doctors and nurses, representing government organizations, free of cost, across its domestic network.

Last week, fast-moving consumer goods company ITC Ltd said it has tied up with medical oxygen supplier Linde India to airlift 24 cryogenic ISO containers of 20 tonnes each from Asian countries.

ITC is also airlifting large numbers of oxygen concentrators for distribution, it added. Its paperboards unit in Bhadrachalam has also commenced supply of oxygen to identified government hospitals in the state.

“ITC is committed to supporting the government in its fight against the debilitating pandemic and will continue to explore other avenues to help address the challenges emerging during these trying times," the company said.

The Adani Group is importing four cryogenic tanks with 80 tonnes of liquid oxygen from Saudi Arabia, while ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India is supplying 220 tonnes of liquid oxygen per day to Gujarat.

In Haryana, the OP Jindal Modern School operated by Jindal Stainless in Hisar is being converted into an emergency covid hospital with ICU beds. Jindal Stainless managing director Abhyuday Jindal said the company’s oxygen facility in Hisar was continuously feeding oxygen in and around Hisar hospitals and will also feed the oxygen to this new facility. “With a country-first motto in mind, we are ready to supply more oxygen to hospitals even if this is at the expense of the production," he said.

In view of the pandemic, the oxygen plant at Hisar facility of Jindal Stainless is running up to a capacity of 150%. The plant has increased its oxygen production capacity to 7.5-8 tonnes per day from 6 tonnes per day.

On Monday, packaged consumer goods maker Procter and Gamble said it will contribute 50 crore to vaccinate over 500,000 citizens through partnerships with government and local authorities in India. This contribution towards vaccines will be on top of P&G’s earmarked corporate social responsibility funds for the current year, it said.

“In the current situation and going forward, vaccines play a critical role in containing the spread of the virus," Madhusudan Gopalan, CEO, P&G Indian Subcontinent, said, without disclosing the states where it plans to offer free vaccines.

Ayushman Baruah and Utpal Bhaskar contributed to this story.

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