Pune: Covid cases dip, oxygen producers can now supply 20% output for industrial use

Since the first week of April 2021, all the oxygen produced in Maharashtra had been reserved for medical use, owing to the alarming rise of Covid-19 infections.

Amid growing clamour from industrial bodies, the Pune District Collector Thursday allowed oxygen producers in the district to supply 20 per cent of their output for industrial purposes.

Since the first week of April 2021, all the oxygen produced in the state has been reserved for medical use, owing to the alarming rise of Covid-19 infections in the state.

On Wednesday, the state medical department directed the collectors that they can grant conditional permission to the producers to sell 20 per cent oxygen for industrial purposes.

With the significant dip in the Covid-19 infections in the last few weeks, the demand for medical oxygen in the district has gone down. Industrial bodies in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad have been urging the state government to restore the supply of oxygen for industrial uses. Last week, Pimpri Chinchwad Small Scale Industries Association submitted a memorandum to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, arguing that 11,000-12,000 small and medium scale industries in the area require oxygen for their day-to-day activities, and all of them were shut owing to the non-supply.

Oxygen producers were also claiming that 30-40 per cent of the gas produced is now remaining unsold, as demand for medical oxygen has dipped and owing to the restrictions put by the government, the gas couldn’t be supplied for industrial use.

On Thursday, the Pune Collector issued an order granting conditional permission to sell 20 per cent of the produced oxygen for industrial use, provided that the oxygen producers use their entire capacity and keep 80 per cent of the production for medical use.

“The priority has to be given for medical use and only after the medical demand is fulfilled, the oxygen can be sold for industrial purposes. If need be, 20 per cent oxygen can again be diverted for medical use,” said Deshmukh.

Owing to high number of Covid-19 infections in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, the rural areas of the district as well as neighbouring districts, the demand for medical oxygen had shot up multiple times during April-May. The administration had set up special teams to oversee the distribution of oxygen and to ensure that no hospital suffered a shortage of oxygen that could result in loss of life. The administration had also appointed ‘oxygen audit teams’ to ensure that the life-saving gas was being used judiciously.

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