With unprecedented rise in Covid-19 cases and acute shortage of medical oxygen pushing the hospitals in the country to the edge, India Inc has once again come forward to lend a helping hand to strengthen the fight against the pandemic. A host of industry majors have been stepping forward to keep the supply chain moving and augment the availability of medical oxygen in different parts of the country.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has formed a Task Force on Oxygen Supply Chain to work with Central and State Governments to augment oxygen supply by working on domestic capacity enhancement and imports; logistical issues between States including issues of transportation, non-availability of cylinders; policy-level interventions, and so on.

Companies including the industrial majors like Tata Group, Reliance Industries Limited, JSW Group, Adani, ITC, and Jindal Steel and Power, to name a few, have come forward to help hospitals treating Covid-19 patients by supplying medical oxygen, cryogenic vessels, portable concentrators and generators.

Commenting on the situation, Mr T V Narendran, President Designate, CII said, “There is a dire need to increase the availability of oxygen and address the logistical issues in transporting oxygen across the country. It is heartening to see that Industry has come forward in such a big way to support the cause and provide solutions in a very short span of time using all possible means. The biggest bottleneck is the shortage of cryogenic containers. Tatas are importing 36 cryogenic vessels by this month end. Tata Steel is also supplying over 600 MT medical oxygen from its plants to hospitals”.

JSW Steel is also currently supplying 1000 tonnes per day and plans to ramp up further. The total supply from all its plants across the country  viz Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in April 2021 is expected to be over 20000 tonnes of liquid  oxygen.

Mr Seshagiri Rao M.V.S., Chairman, CII Task Force on Oxygen Supply Chain and Joint Managing Director and Group CFO, JSW Steel Ltd said, “Efforts are on to further increase oxygen supplies from steel plants across the country. Government of India has already come up with a tender for importing 50,000 MT of liquid oxygen. The Task force has made some critical propositions to government to use direct vessels to import the liquid oxygen, removing logistical bottlenecks, reduce the transit -time, fast unloading of containers, ensuring speedy clearances and transport to the destinations through green corridors, augmenting capacity to produce additional oxygen using supercritical process, among others. The Taskforce has also suggested that Govt. could explore G2G mechanisms for getting support in the current health emergency with friendly countries “

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is also supplying liquid medical oxygen to over 700 MT per day to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Daman, Diu & Nagar Haveli.

In addition, ITC is airlifting 24 Cryogenic ISO Containers, with 20 tones capacity each. It is also exploring the imports of a large number of oxygen concentrators as well as generators for distribution. ITC’s Paperboards unit in Bhadrachalam has already commenced supply of oxygen to identified Government hospitals in the state.   

Adani Group is importing 4 ISO cryogenic tanks with 80 MT liquid oxygen from Saudi Arabia.

ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India is supplying 220 MT of liquid oxygen per day to Gujarat.  Jindal Steel & Power Ltd is supplying 80 to 100 MT per day to various states and can enhance the capacity to 150 MT per day provided the lifting is increased.

The Commercial Vehicle manufacturers under the aegis of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) are sensitising and alerting the eco-system to ensure fastest turn-around time for vehicles transporting oxygen.  Technologies like track and trace and / or connected vehicles, are being leveraged in this regard. All support and assistance required for keeping these vehicles on road and running, is also being made available.

Vedanta, Jubilant Ingrevia Ltd and many others major corporate houses are continuing to explore avenues to help address the shortage of oxygen in the country.