The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will set up 500 medical oxygen generating plants across the country within three months under the PM-CARES fund to ramp up oxygen production to fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis ripping through the country, the defence ministry announced on Wednesday.
In addition, the DRDO has also started work to set up oxygen generating plants in four government hospitals in Delhi — AIIMS, RML, Lady Hardinge, and Safdarjung — by May 10 to help tackle the oxygen crisis amid the second Covid wave, officials familiar with the developments said on Wednesday. Another oxygen generating plant will be set up at AIIMS, Jhajjar.
The DRDO has transferred oxygen generation technology to the industry, which has now stepped in to provide oxygen plants to state governments and hospitals. The technology transferred to the industry is based on the onboard oxygen generation technology developed for TEJAS light combat aircraft. The oxygen generation plants can produce 1,000 litres of oxygen per minute.
The DRDO has transferred technology to Tata Advanced Systems Limited, Bengaluru, and Trident Pneumatics Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore, which will be producing 380 of the 500 plants for installation across various hospitals in the country, the defence ministry said in a statement. The remaining 120 plants will be produced by the industry in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun, it added.
“Each oxygen plant is designed for a capacity of 1,000 litres per minute (LPM). The system can cater to 190 patients at a flow rate of 5 LPM and charge 195 cylinders per day…. Hospitals will be able to generate on-site medical oxygen in a cost-effective manner,” the ministry said.
As the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis spins out of control and the military responds to it on war footing, chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday said it was time for the armed forces to rise to the occasion and support the civil administration in creating Covid mitigation facilities in a time-bound manner.
The armed forces, the DRDO and defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) are working overtime for Covid relief. They have set up Covid hospitals, ramped up oxygen production and airlifted medical staff and oxygen containers and liaised with state governments to help deal with the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
The PM on Monday also reviewed the operations undertaken by the IAF to transport oxygen and other essentials to fight the crisis. For more than a week, the IAF has been ferrying empty cryogenic oxygen containers to filling centres in India from different domestic locations and even abroad to help hospitals tide over the oxygen crisis.
The IAF is using a variety of aircraft for Covid relief, including C-17, C-130J, IL-76, An-32, Avro, Chinook and Mi-17 helicopters. The containers will be filled up and transported to different centres for Covid relief by rail or road.
The Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) is importing 23 mobile oxygen generation plants from Germany to address the oxygen crisis precipitated by the second wave of the pandemic — 23 such plants will arrive this week.