Twenty-three mobile oxygen generation plants are being airlifted from Germany. IAF is making all efforts to get oxygen tankers reach plants as fast as possible, says defence ministry

Amid shortage of oxygen in hospitals during the second wave of COVID-19, the Ministry of Defence has decided to import oxygen generation plants and containers from Germany.

"Twenty-three mobile oxygen generation plants are being airlifted from Germany that will be deployed in AFMS hospitals catering to the COVID patients," a defence ministry official said, adding that each plant has a capacity to produce 40 litres of oxygen per minute and 2,400 litres an hour. "At this rate, it can cater to 20-25 patients round the clock."

The advantage of these plants is that they are easily portable. These oxygen generating plants are expected to arrive in India within a week.

Decision to import oxygen generation plants was taken after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's high-level review meeting on April 23, in which he directed the armed forces to go ahead with procurement of critical medical requirements under emergency financial powers. In addition, the DRDO and HAL have also pitched in with oxygen generation plants. Indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas on-board oxygen generation system has also been converted into a civilian use oxygen generation plant.

Moreover, IAF's transport fleet of aircraft has also been pressed into service to ferry oxygen tankers across the country. IAF has swung into action by carrying out sorties from various parts of the country to airlift oxygen containers, cylinders, essential medicines and equipment required for setting up and sustaining COVID hospitals and facilities. Transport aircraft like C-17, C-130J, IL-76, An-32 and Avro are being used, while Chinook and Mi-17 helicopters are on standby. Tasks undertaken include airlift of doctors and nursing staff from Kochi, Mumbai, Vizag and Bangalore for various hospitals at Delhi.

An official said that the C-17 and IL-76 aircraft of IAF have started airlifting big empty oxygen tankers from their place of use to the filling stations across the country to speed up the distribution of much needed oxygen. In addition to this, the C-17 and IL-76 have transported large quantity of load comprising bio safety cabinets and autoclave machines for setting up of an additional COVID test facility at Leh. The IAF transport and helicopter assets are on standby to be deployed at a short notice.

In another important decision, the Ministry of Defence is giving extension to Short Service Commissioned Doctors in AFMS till December 31, 2021 to tide over the current surge in medical services. This will augment the strength of AFMS by 238 more doctors.