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NEW DELHI : New Delhi: With the nation reeling under a medical oxygen shortage, around 10,000 oxygenated beds can be made available near those industries that produce gaseous oxygen by setting up temporary hospitals near them, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office on Sunday.

“It is expected that around 10,000 oxygenated beds can be made available in a short period of time by making temporary hospitals near such plants," the statement said. “State governments are being encouraged to set up more such facilities with oxygenated beds to deal with the pandemic," it added.

Around 1,500 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants are also being set up through contributions from the PM Cares Fund and state-run firms, among others. The government is also working on repurposing existing nitrogen plants to produce oxygen.

“In line with his direction of exploring innovative ways to ramp up supply and availability of oxygen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to review the usage of gaseous oxygen," the PMO said.

The meeting was also attended by the principal secretary to the prime minister, P.K. Misra, cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and road transport and highways secretary Giridhar Aramane, among other senior officials.

“The strategy being used is to identify industrial units that produce gaseous oxygen of requisite purity, shortlist those that are close to cities/dense areas/demand centres, and establish temporary covid care centres with oxygenated beds near that source. A pilot for five such facilities had already been initiated and there is good progress on this," the PMO said.

The Union government has been facing increasing criticism over its handling of the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic, with the number of positive cases surging massively.

“Many industries such as steel plants, refineries with petrochemical units, industries using rich combustion process and power plants have oxygen plants that produce gaseous oxygen. This oxygen can be tapped for medical use," the PMO said.

This assumes significance given that of India’s installed power generation capacity of 382.15 gigawatts (GW), thermal power projects fuelled by coal and gas account for 202.67GW and 24.92GW respectively. Also, steel plants and oil refineries have been supplying medical oxygen to different parts of the country.

“Considering the requirement of medical oxygen amid the covid-19 pandemic situation, the government of India explored the feasibility of conversion of existing nitrogen plants to produce oxygen. Various such potential industries, wherein existing nitrogen plants may be spared for production of oxygen, were identified," the PMO said in another statement.

“On deliberation with the industries, so far 14 industries have been identified where conversion of plants is under progress. Further 37 nitrogen plants have been also identified with the help of industry associations," it said.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government on Sunday said it has stepped up the supply of oxygen and within 10 days has sent 3,965 metric tonnes (MT) of medical oxygen to eight states.

The second wave continues to rage across the country, with 392,488 new covid cases registered in the past 24 hours. According to ministry of health and family welfare data, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan accounted for 72.72% of the new cases.

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