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Responding to government’s call for support: Steelmakers to pump more oxygen into nation’s lungs

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The nation’s largest steelmakers are ramping up the production of oxygen at their plants, responding to a call from the government to support the healthcare system struggling to cope with a shortage of the gas which is causing many Covid-19 patients to die.

State-owned

has supplied around 35,000 tonnes of liquefied medical oxygen from its plants in Bhilai, Bokaro, Burnpur, Durgapur and Rourkela since the beginning of the pandemic last year. Private manufacturers such as Tata Steel, JSW Steel and ArcelorMittal Nippon said they are supplying oxygen for medical use and increasing the production as well. , which has a petroleum refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat, is supplying oxygen to hospitals in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Daman & Diu and Silvassa, said people in the know.

Vedanta has offered Tamil Nadu to supply around 1,050 tonnes per day of oxygen from its now-closed Tuticorin copper plant.

These companies produce oxygen at their factories for captive use. The gas is used in the manufacturing processes in metals and petroleum refineries, as well as in many other industries.

The government has asked these companies to supply oxygen for medical purposes and barred its use in many industries, as the country is battling a severe wave of the pandemic. Hospitals in big cities like Mumbai and Delhi have run out of oxygen or are facing an acute shortage, even as the number of patients requiring artificial oxygen support is swelling.

RIL Raises Output to 700 tonnes

“The company has supplied around 600 metric tonnes of oxygen every day in the last week and on Monday, the company has supplied around 750 MT,” said a SAIL executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Previously, SAIL was supplying only 180-200 tonnes a day to hospitals.

Government officials said JSW Steel is supplying more than 200 tonnes of oxygen to Maharashtra and 400 tonnes to Karnataka a day. This can be further ramped up to 900-1,000 tonnes, they said.

“We are supplying oxygen for medical purposes as a priority in response to current crises,” said the company, which has oxygen plants at Dolvi (Maharashtra), Ballari (Karnataka) and Salem (Tamil Nadu).

Reliance Industries has been supplying around 400 tonnes of the life-saving gas from its Jamnagar refinery via road to state hospitals in Maharashtra. However, people in the know said it has increased production to 700 tonnes and is currently supplying to hospitals in Gujarat, MP, Daman & Diu and Silvassa as well. It can further expand production to around 1,000 tonnes with some technical changes to the plant, one of the people said.

The Tata Group is importing around two dozen cryogenic containers in charter flights to transport oxygen from its plants for medical use. The company has been supplying around 300 tonnes of liquefied oxygen to hospitals in Jharkhand. It has now started supplies to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha as well.

“We stand ready to further increase the supply depending on the requirements and the available logistics,” a spokesperson told ET.

ArcelorMittal plans to increase supplies to 210 tonnes from the 200 tonnes from its Gujarat plant.

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