Alarm bells in PGI as Punjab stops Oxygen supply

PGIMER, which is catering to COVID patients from across the region, says that it will face a shortfall of oxygen if this additional supply is not released.

The Post Graduate Institute of Medical College and Research (PGIMER) is facing a major crisis as Punjab government reportedly refused permission to the institute to lift oxygen cylinders from Mandi, Gobindgarh from Friday onwards.
On Thursday evening, vehicles carrying oxygen cylinders for the medical institute were stopped at Mandi Gobindgarh.

Though these cylinders were subsequently released late at night, PGIMER was informed that it will not be able to take any oxygen from the town Friday onwards. Today, no additional supply of oxygen will reach PGI due to the deadlock.

PGIMER, which is catering to COVID patients from across the region, says that it will face a shortfall of oxygen if this additional supply is not released.

As of now , the institute transports about 50-odd oxygen cylinders, each with a capacity of 7000 litres each, from Mandi Gobindgarh. The hospital administration said though the quota for liquid oxygen has been fixed by the government, supply coming from a PSA plant in Punjab is not part of it.

Due to heavy inflow of patients, PGI has been requiring oxygen over and above the fixed quota of 20MT of liquid oxygen. Increase in demand prompted it to get additional supply of the gas from a private vendor at Mandi Gobindgarh.

“We are already consuming 20 MT of liquid oxygen, but there are areas where oxygen points are not there and oxygen cylinders have to be used. Our vendor in Gobindgarh makes oxygen using atmospheric gases and then it is filled in cylinders. There are no directions by the government of India pertaining to this and oxygen made through air can’t be stopped at inter-state borders,” Assistant Professor Dr Pankaj Arora from Department of Hospital Administration, who manages the oxygen supplies, said.

He added, “Though they released the cylinders coming last night, they have stopped further supply. We have taken up the matter at the level of our Director. We should not be denied oxygen because we are catering to patients from all states, including Punjab. We don’t know how will we manage now.”

By Friday evening, PGIMER doctors were struggling to manage the supply of oxygen from the backup bank of liquid oxygen.

UT Adviser Manoj Parida while speaking to The Indian Express said, “Yes, we got to know that vehicles carrying oxygen cylinder to PGI were stopped by Punjab and they have been denied oxygen supply. It is very unfortunate as PGI admits patients from all the neighbouring states. And oxygen made through air shouldn’t be denied.” It’s noteworthy that on Friday, majority of COVID patients at PGI were from Punjab.

Meanwhile, Fatehgarh Sahib Deputy commissioner Amrit Kaur Gill said, “The supplier had given wrong information that cylinders were meant for delivery to Mohali. After finding out that the gas cylinders were to be sent to PGI, those were allowed to proceed. The matter was sorted out yesterday.” On Chandigarh administration’s remarks, Gill said, “They should not give wrong information. Humanity is going through such a crisis. We should not complicate things.”

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