UP targets self-reliance with 533 new oxygen plants
The new plants are being set up both in the public and private sectors, including by sugar mills and big companies, as part of CSR activity. The plants will also be set up at the state medical colleges and big government hospitals.
Making quick amends following an acute oxygen crisis during the second wave of Covid-19, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government is setting up 533 new oxygen (O2) plants across the state.
Of the 533 plants, 102 O2-manufacturing units have already been commissioned so far, while work on others is underway.
During the second wave spike in April-May 2021, the peak demand for liquid medical oxygen (LMO) in UP had breached 1,200 tonnes a day, while the indigenous production capacity was grossly insufficient. Later, the state government had to resort to importing O2 from other states by road and by train via special Oxygen Express run by the Railways.
At that crucial juncture, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered for augmenting the O2-manufacturing capacity in UP to withstand similar exigencies in the future and to become self-reliant in production, especially in the wake of the anticipated third wave of the pandemic.
UP chief secretary RK Tiwari has already directed all the divisional commissioners and district magistrates to follow up on the remaining 431 O2 units so that they start commercial production by the end of July 31. The officials have been tasked with conducting a daily review and keeping the O2 plant contractors/vendors in the loop so that the projects are completed within the stipulated time frame.
The new plants are being set up both in the public and private sectors, including by sugar mills and big companies, as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity. The plants will also be set up at the state medical colleges and big government hospitals.
For example, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has also proposed to set up 10 O2 plants in UP.
More than 40 O2 plants are being funded by the Members of Parliament (MP) and members of the UP legislature by contributing money from their local area development purse even as the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) will be used to establish 25 plants.
Nearly 188 new O2 plants are proposed to be set up from the PM Cares Fund.
Last month, the Adityanath government had announced a dedicated oxygen policy to attract private investment in the critical segment. The UP Oxygen Production Promotion Policy 2021 is aimed at encouraging private firms to foray into the manufacture of medical and industrial oxygen by offering capital subsidy and stamp duty exemption.
Under the policy, the investors will be eligible to avail of capital subsidy in three equal annual instalments of 25 per cent for Bundelkhand and Purvanchal, 20 per cent for Madhyanchal and 15 per cent for Paschimanchal regions.
Besides, there will be 100 per cent stamp duty waiver for Bundelkhand and Purvanchal, 75 per cent for Madhyanchal and 50 per cent for Paschimanchal regions.
(Virendra Singh Rawat is a Lucknow-based journalist who writes on contemporary issues of industry, economy, agriculture, infrastructure, budget etc.)