NEW DELHI: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is diverting oxygen produced at his refineries to help India battle a savage coronavirus outbreak that’s paralysed the commercial capital as daily new infections spike by a record.
Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd, which operates the world’s biggest refining complex in India, has started supplying oxygen from Jamnagar to Maharashtra at no cost, according to a company official, who asked not to be identified due to internal policy.
Coronavirus: Live updates
The state will get 100 tonnes of the gas from Reliance, Eknath Shinde, urban development minister, said in a tweet.
रिलायन्स च्या जामनगर प्लँट मधून महाराष्ट्रासाठी १०० मेट्रिक टन अतिरिक्त ऑक्सिजन पुरवठा होणार.विभागीय आयुक्त, रायग… https://t.co/324qV89cPy
— Eknath Shinde – एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) 1618336752000
India is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that has caught the Centre and state governments unprepared, with media reporting that patients are dying due to a shortage of oxygen and hospital beds. Maharashtra is home to the financial hub of Mumbai where the fresh outbreak is most severe, and where Ambani officially resides and Reliance has its headquarters.
Maharashtra: Shortage of medical oxygen in a number of hospitals in Nashik DistrictOnly when the oxygen supply is… https://t.co/4CDO061rgC
— ANI (@ANI) 1618470628000
Separately, state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp has built up a stockpile of 20 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen at its Kochi refinery that can be readily offered, the company said in an emailed statement. It previously supplied 25 tonnes of oxygen for medical use.
Bharat Petroleum can further supply about 1.5 tonnes of oxygen daily from the Kochi plant, where it has a unit that can produce medical-grade oxygen, according to the statement.
Refineries can produce limited volumes of industrial oxygen in air-separation plants meant for nitrogen production. Medical-use oxygen can be extracted by scrubbing out other gases, such as carbon dioxide, to make it 99.9% pure.