Chandigarh, Apr 24 (IANS): Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered the shutdown of operations in the state's iron and steel industries to divert oxygen for medical use, along with immediate establishment of its control rooms at the state and district levels amid the escalating oxygen crisis in the state.
Six patients died of oxygen shortage at a private hospital in Amritsar.
The CM also directed the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Amritsar to initiate a thorough investigation into the tragic incident at the Amritsar hospital.
The DC has been asked to ascertain the facts and circumstances leading to the deaths at the hospital, which prima facie seemed to have flouted orders given to all private hospitals with oxygen shortage to shift their patients to Government Medical Colleges.
The DC has set up a two-member committee, comprising Rajat Oberoi, Deputy Director Local Bodies, who is also in charge of the death analysis committee, and a civil surgeon, to probe the matter, an official spokesperson said.
Taking stock of the situation in view of the oxygen shortage being reported from various hospitals, and the fact that the current allocation to Punjab is not sufficient to meet the urgent needs, the Chief Minister said he had already taken up the matter with the Centre, seeking an increase in the quota on an urgent basis. Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan was following up the matter.
The sudden influx of patients from neighbouring states had put an added burden on the oxygen requirement in Punjab, he noted.
Ordering closure of industrial operations at the iron and steel plants, the Chief Minister said the state government will convey its decision to the Centre.
The Chief Minister has also asked for a feasibility report from the Power Department on the use of thermal plants for providing oxygen for medical use.
Punjab has witnessed a sharp increase in demand over the past few days. The demand for oxygen currently stands at 250 metric tonnes (MT) per day and is expected to go up to 300 MT in the coming days on account of the spiralling Covid cases.
Amarinder Singh directed that contracted oxygen supply under private hospitals may be reviewed to ensure that oxygen supply is optimally used and rationalised across the state.