Seeking to address the shortage of medical oxygen as active COVID-19 cases surpassed the 18-lakh mark, the Union government on Sunday banned the supply of the gas for industrial purposes except in nine specified areas and expedited installation of 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants in health facilities across the country, while the Railways announced special trains to transport the life-saver.
The Railways said it will run 'Oxygen Express' trains over the next few days to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders across the country. Here are five things to know:
1. The Ministry of Railways in a statement said that the Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments had approached it to explore whether Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) tankers could be moved by the railways and it immediately explored the technical feasibility of transportation of LMO. This had to be done through Roll On Roll Off (RO RO) service with road tankers placed on flat wagons.
2. To ensure that parameters of transportation are tested, trials were conducted at various locations. A flat wagon was placed at Kalamboli goods shed in Mumbai on April 15 and a T 1618 tanker loaded with LMO was brought to New Delhi. Joint measurements were taken by representatives of Industry and Railways.
3. Based on these measurements, route clearances were taken. In order to enable commercial booking and freight payment for RO RO movement of LMO in cryogenic tankers, the Ministry of Railways brought out a circular on April 16 providing all the necessary details on the matter.
4. On April 17, a meeting was held between Railway Board officials and State Transport Commissioners and representatives of industry on the subject of issues related to transportation of Liquid Medical Oxygen.
It was decided that the tankers would be organised by Transport Commissioner, Maharashtra. These empty tankers would be moved from Kalamboli/Boisar railway stations in and near Mumbai, and sent to Vizag and Jamshedpur/Rourkela/Bokaro, for loading of liquid medical oxygen tankers from there.
5. In pursuance of the above decision, instructions have been issued to Zonal Railways to ensure readiness to receive the trailers and load them back. Ramps have to be built at Vizag, Angul and Bhilai and the existing ramp at Kalamboli is to be strengthened. The Kalamboli ramp would be made ready by April 19. Ramps at other locations would also be ready in a couple of days by the time the tankers reach those locations.
"Since the first empty tankers will move on April 19, we hope to begin operations of Oxygen Express over the next few days. We would be able to send oxygen wherever there is such demand. A green corridor is being created for fast movement of Oxygen Express trains," an official told PTI.
With IANS and PTI inputs