Public Works Department to add 12,900 oxygen beds soon

It is getting requests for more beds daily from hospitals across the State

As the demand grows, the Public Works Department (PWD) is expediting the work on providing 12,900 additional oxygen beds across Tamil Nadu in four or five days.

It has so far provided 6,650 beds equipped with oxygen support to many hospitals for COVID-19 patients. In Chennai, nearly 1,770 beds with oxygen lines are ready for use at major hospitals, including Kilpauk Medical College Hospital.

Besides 1,000 more beds at major Chennai hospitals, similar infrastructure is being created at 11 other hospitals in and around the city, including peripheral hospitals and Government RSRM Lying-in Hospital. Only 25% of the work is pending.

“We are getting fresh requests daily from hospitals across the State to rig up oxygen lines for more beds. On an average, requests for 50-100 beds come in daily,” a PWD official said. For instance, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital has sought 150 more oxygen-supplied beds and hospitals in Madurai and Coimbatore have sought 200 and 100 beds each. “We are prioritising the requests… and processing them as soon as possible. Such requests have also come from Salem, Tirunelveli and Kancheepuram,” the official said. Amid the total lockdown, the PWD finds it difficult to source material for oxygen pipelines. “We have to wait for two or three days after placing orders for copper materials that are in high demand across the country. We are diverting supply from other parts of the State to prevent delay,” the official said.

The PWD has submitted estimates for ₹140 crore spent so far on the project. Another challenge is the increasing price of copper that is two times the rates fixed by the PWD. However, 500 workers have been engaged to complete the project on time. “We are also prepared to check and certify infrastructure being added at other places. For instance, a PWD team has certified the functioning of the oxygen lines added at Chennai Trade Centre,” officials said.

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