Amid the complaints of hospitals running out of oxygen supply, Delhi reported 24,368 fresh COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. The Empowered Group 2 (EG2), a group formed by the PMO comprising officials from different ministries and experts, hastened to increase oxygen quota for the national capital as supply dwindled. Earlier this week, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had requested the Centre for more supply of oxygen, as the city’s hospitals were running out of cylinders following a massive surge in COVID-19 cases.
Central government on Wednesday increased the quota of oxygen for several states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi following a sudden spike in demand due to rising COVID-19 cases.
What is Empowered Group 2
Just five days after the national lockdown was imposed last year, on March 29, central government formed 11 empowered panels responsible for handling various services to combat COVID pandemic and its effects.
In September 2020, these panels were restructured into a smaller group of 5 with greater responsibilities. Empowered Group 2 was headed by Guruprasad Mahapatra, secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. EG2 was given the responsibilities of ensuring the availability of essential medical resources across the country and augmenting human resources to fight the pandemic.
The group also has Pharmaceuticals Secretary PD Vaghela; Textiles Secretary Ravi Capoor, AYUSH Secretary Rajesh Kotecha and Dr P Ravindran from Emergency Medical Response Division of the Ministry of Health as its members.
How oxygen quota is fixed
The Empowered Group 2 is responsible for procuring liquid oxygen for medical use from suppliers, private manufacturers, government entities and their distribution to various state governments, central government hospitals and private hospitals.
EG2 also keep an account of availability of oxygen and then assigns the procured oxygen based on each state’s need and the prevailing situation. As medical oxygen availability ran low in Delhi, the city’s quota was increased from 378 metric tonnes a day to 480 metric tonnes a day.
According to a The Hindu Businessline report, the quota of medical oxygen for the states Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat were also revised among other worst COVID-19 affected states.
The EG2 last week started planning for increasing oxygen production in key states to support the requirement of 12 high-burden states. The group also has released a tender for the import of 50,000 tonnes of oxygen from outside the country.