A 1000-bed COVID-19 care hospital facility is being set up in the Vizag steel plant township area amid the second wave of COVID-19 in Andhra Pradesh. The facility is being set up in the Gurajada Kalakshetram and other community hall buildings in Ukkunagaram, the township of the Visakhapatnam steel plant. The cots for the 1000-bed facility are being fabricated at the steel plantâ€™s UERS (Utility Equipment Repair Shop), and arrangements are being made to supply medical oxygen to the beds, according to reports.
According to RINL (Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited), the corporate entity of the Vizag Steel Plant, a total of 2,200 metric tonne of liquid medical oxygen has been dispatched from the steel plant to Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka since April 13. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plant has supplied more than 11,000 metric tonne of liquid medical oxygen, according to RINL. During the first wave of COVID-19, the supply mostly went to Andhra Pradesh.
Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal has said that apart from liquid oxygen, the oxygen manufactured by industries in gaseous form, which cannot be transported to long distances, is being tapped into for local use, for cylinder filling etc. According to Singhal, around 420 metric tonne of liquid medical oxygen was consumed in the state each day, between April 25 and April 27. In comparison, the daily consumption in the state at the peak of the first wave was 260 metric tonne, he said, addressing the media earlier this week.
â€” RINL (@RINL_VSP) April 30, 2021
In the months preceding the resurgence in COVID-19 infections, Andhra Pradesh witnessed sustained, large-scale protests against the Union governmentâ€™s decision to privatise the Vizag steel plant. The protests, led by the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee (Committee for conservation of Visakha steel) which includes workers and employees of the steel plant, have been endorsed by the Left parties, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) as well as the ruling YSRCP. Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting ways to revive the steel plant without disinvestment, and even sought an appointment for a meeting with an all-party delegation, including representatives of trade unions.