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Home / Politics / News /  France supplying another 80 tonne of oxygen to covid-battered India

NEW DELHI: Reflective of its special ties with India, France, which has already supplied 80 tonnes of medical oxygen, has sent another 80 tonnes to ease oxygen availability in pandemic-battered India.

The second tranche of supplies, which are coming in through a special arrangement that sees oxygen being loaded into containers in Qatar, will reach India in a few days, depending on the petering out of Cyclone Tauktae, a person familiar with the matter said.

The oxygen has been donated by French company Air Liquide.

Besides this, France will also supply nine more oxygen generating plants each of which can support 250 hospital beds, the person cited above said. These nine plants, sourced from France, were expected in early June. They were in addition to eight such units delivered earlier this month.

"Solidarity is at the heart of the strategic partnership between France and India," French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain had said earlier this month. In recent years, ties have grown with France emerging as New Delhi’s “go-to" partner on a number of issues, according to analysts.

“A partnership between sovereign countries that has built (on) an exceptional mutual trust and (who) work together to enhance each other's strategic autonomy. This is what we have been doing for years in the fields of defence, nuclear energy, space," Lenain said.

The transportation of oxygen came about through the establishment of a unique and dedicated logistic bridge organised by both the governments and implemented by the Indian armed forces.

Four cryogenic containers were airlifted by the French government to Qatar and filled with oxygen generated by French company Air Liquide’s joint venture plant in the Gulf country. The containers were then transported to Mumbai by two Indian naval frigates INS Trikand and INS Tarkash. Once in India, the oxygen was transported to Air Liquide’s plant in Pune to be loaded into trucks that were later dispatched to various hospitals in India. Once emptied, the four cryogenic containers were ferried back to Qatar by the Indian Air Force. Air Liquide’s India plant had four containers which were rotated with the four supplied by the French government to ensure that the supplies came in quickly, a second person aware of the matter said.

Given the transport of oxygen by air was not viable, “it had to be sourced from a place not far from India from where it could be transported by sea," the second person said. Air Liquide’s joint venture plant in Qatar served the purpose, the person added.

The money to finance the transport of oxygen and supply the oxygen generating plants came from resources pooled together by the French government and some 50 French companies with a presence in India, the second person said.

According to a statement posted on the French embassy's website, the companies that responded to a call by Macron and the French foreign ministry included Air Liquide, BNP Paribas, Capgemini, Dassault Aviation, EDF, Naval Group, Sanofi, Safran, Société Générale ainsi qu’ATOS, Moët-Hennessy, Renault, Airbus, L’Oréal, Alstom, Total, Hermes, Crédit Agricole, Thales, Air France, Michelin, Schneider Electric and Legrand besides the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI).

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