Bhubaneswar; When many Indian States reeling under equate oxygen crisis during the dangerous second wave of the Covid-19, Odisha came for rescue and supplied over 40,000 tonnes of life saving oxygen to 17 States in the country till date.
Principal Secretary Industries, Heamant Sharma sources said that Odisha has taken up the supply of Oxygen on a Mission Mode approach.
“The Covid second wave started around late March and early April and the number of patients started increasing in leaps and bounds. There was a tremendous mismatch in demand and supply of medical oxygen, what is generally being called the oxygen supply crisis,” said Mr.Sharma.
Odisha is the metallurgical hub of the country. All that goes into steelmaking, we have it in Odisha. In the year 2020, Odisha had produced about 20 million tonnes of steel and 100 million tonnes in the year 2030 is the target, Mr.Sharma said.
Odisha was in a unique position because of the industries, they use industrial oxygen. The State has nearly 70 steel plants including large industries in vital locations like Rourkela, Angul, Jajpur and Dhenkanal. Steel plants are using oxygen as part of their production process.
Medical oxygen is more refined because it goes inside human beings. Liquid medical oxygen has a purity level of 99.5 percent and its transportation is also immensely challenging as it requires cryogenic tankers to keep it stable at an extremely low temperature.
While the National Geographic has produced a documentary film entitled “Fighting the Crisis Together l Mission Oxygen” describing how Odisha successfully conducted the Mission Oxygen, officials were spending sleepless nights to help out the distressed states, thanks to the decision of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Oxygen Taskforce headed by Principal Advisor to CM, Asit Tripathy, Industries Principal Secretary Hemant Sharma, ADG Police YK Jethwa and Task Force Coordinator Nitin Jawale were at the helm to handle the Mission.
“Through our dashboard, we have been monitoring this whole oxygen logistics for more than a month now, right from the time the second wave set in and the demand for oxygen had risen. We have an elaborate system, where we have mapped each and every activity right from the point where LMO is manufactured, to the second level at refillers,” said Task Force Coordinator.
The tankers were arriving in Odisha by air through the Indian Air Force Globe Masters, by trains in rakes, and also by roads. The routes were mapped, bottleneck areas in those routes were chalked out and arrangements were made to ensure that there is real time monitoring of the tankers in these locations, he said.
In between cyclone Yaas hits Odisha and threatens to disturb the mission. But, Team Odisha has not let the Mission to disrupt.
“Cyclone Yaas, which was predicted to make landfall in West Bengal, hits Odisha. The Kalinganagar area, which happens to be the steelmaking hub of the country, came in the direct path of cyclone Yaas. If you have high wind flow and rainfall, then it disrupts power supply. Since they were coming in the path, it was quite possible that it would go down, so therefore, they were on grid support,” Mr.Tripathy said.
Another challenge before the Government was clearance of roads for smooth movement of the tankers. Therefore, tree-cutting, tree-felling and tree movement teams were deployed on the roads, the Principal Advisor to CM said. The third challenge was disruption to the traffic. Therefore, police parties were there to tackle it, he added.
Sharing experience during the cyclone period, official said, “We had a directive from the Chief Minister’s Officer (CMO) that even during the cyclone, the movement of oxygen tankers should go unhindered and a mechanism should be put in place for that.”
It was ensured that all dispatches that could go right before the onset of the cyclone were dispatched early and hospitals and other centres were provided with oxygen, he added.
“If you look at our daily transportation on the day after the cyclone, we had the third highest supply of oxygen even during the cyclone period,” Industries Principal Secretary Mr.Sharma pointed out.