Chandigarh, May 5 | Amid the oxygen crisis triggered by the spiralling Covid-19 cases, the Punjab government on Wednesday announced thrust sector status for all oxygen production units, while appointing a nodal officer to coordinate with the Customs Department for quick clearance of foreign aid.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said with the way things were going currently, the situation was likely to worsen in the coming days, with nobody knowing how many more waves of Covid would hit the country and the state.
The status, approved at a virtual cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, will apply to oxygen production units with minimum capacity of 700 cylinders per day equivalent to five metric tonnes (MT), oxygen cylinder manufacturers or fabricators and oxygen concentrator manufacturing units.
Oxygen refilling units will not be covered by the special status.
With this decision, the units, both old and new, will become eligible for 100 per cent exemption from change of land use (CLU), external development charges, property tax, electricity duty, stamp duty and investment subsidy by way of reimbursement of GST up to 125 per cent of the fixed capital investment made in the land and machinery.
The status of thrust sector to oxygen production units has been conferred under clause 10.6 of Chapter 10 of the Industrial and Business Development Policy of 2017 and subsequently as per clause 2.22 of Detailed Schemes and Operational Guidelines of 2018.
The Cabinet took the decision to help the state cope with the emergent situation arising out of acute shortage of oxygen in view of the increased case load due to the unprecedented pandemic in the state. For the week ending May 4, the state had average positivity rate of 11.6 per cent, with case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.1 per cent, from a sample size of 74 lakh.
Currently, the daily oxygen allocation to Punjab stands at 195 MT from outside the state: Inox plant at Himachal Pradesh’s Baddi (60 MT), Air Liquide plant at Haryana’s Panipat (20 MT), Air Liquide plant at Uttarakhand’s Roorkee (15 MT), Linde plant at Dehradun (10 MT), and Inox plant at Jharkhand’s Bokaro (90 MT).
However, only 140 MT is actually being supplies from these plants on a daily basis, with shortage of tankers hampering lifting of oxygen, especially from Bokaro.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed the Cabinet that 14 districts had positivity over 10 per cent and six over 11 per cent, with Mohali the highest at 25 per cent.
Orders had been placed for essential drugs, including 50 lakh Remdesivir 100 mg injections, and the supplies were expected in the next few days, Lal added.