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India Inc steps on gas to boost oxygen supply

MUMBAI: India’s large manufacturers such as Reliance Industries (RIL) are ramping up production of liquid medical oxygen to help battle the coronavirus outbreak that has crippled the economy. Tata Group, the country’s largest conglomerate, is also doing its part by importing cryogenic containers to support the nation’s healthcare system, which is under tremendous strain because of the pandemic. Liquid medical oxygen is a crucial ingredient used for treating certain health conditions, including those brought on by the coronavirus.
RIL, India’s largest company by market value, is looking to raise oxygen capacity to 1,000 tons a day. According to PTI, it installed equipment and established processes at its Jamnagar refinery to produce oxygen in the wake of Covid’s rampant spread. It now supplies 700 tons to states badly affected by the coronavirus. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have the highest infections.
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“The entire supply of oxygen by RIL, including transportation in special tankers at minus 183 degrees Celsius, is made at no cost to the state governments,” reported PTI, quoting sources.

The Centre has allowed oxygen supplies to certain sectors only, including pharmaceuticals, steel and petroleum refineries. But some states like Maharashtra have directed manufacturers to divert all their supplies to save the lives of Covid-stricken patients.
JSW Steel too plans to double oxygen supplies to 400 tons and is making every effort to boost production across its steel plants in the country. Currently, it supplies over 185 tons in response to the crisis.
Tata Group, through an image posted on its Twitter handle, said, to supplement the critical supply of liquid medical oxygen to various states, “we are importing 24 cryogenic containers” via special chartered flights.
Cryogenic containers are tankers used for storing liquid medical oxygen at very low temperatures. Group company Tata Steel has already been supplying 300 tons of oxygen to various hospitals in the country. ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel has been supplying 200 tons from its Hazira plant in Gujarat to health facilities in the state.
Vedanta said it would like to offer its locked Tuticorin plant (housed under Sterlite Copper), which has two oxygen manufacturing facilities with a combined capacity of producing 1,000 tons, to states to fight the pandemic.
“The oxygen plant is currently lying shut owing to the orders passed by the (Tamil Nadu government). This is a humble request to grant us the necessary permission and allow us to run the oxygen plant, which will be instrumental in supporting state governments in these critical times,” said Sterlite Copper CEO Pankaj Kumar in his letter to the Tamil Nadu chief minister.

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