Srinagar: Amid a surge in the number of cases in the valley, three oxygen units were diverted from Kashmir to Jammu last week. According to sources, they will be given back to Kashmir only once the allocated supply of oxygen for Jammu arrives.
The sources confirmed to The Wire that three pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen generation units of 1,000 litres-per-minute (LPM) capacity have been diverted to Jammu from Kashmir and installed in Samab, Reasi and Rajouri.
Earlier this week, Hindustan Times reported that five oxygen units meant for Kashmir were diverted to Jammu.
However, advisor to Lieutenant Governor Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, while speaking to The Wire, said that there is no question of diverting medical assets from one place to the other and the administration is commissioning more oxygen plants so as to make additional arrangements for the availability of oxygen at all places in the UT, and this is how it should be looked into.
“The UT administration is taking measures on war footing to ensure that the medical oxygen is available at all places in the UT and is further expanding the capacity [of oxygen supplies],” he said.
The chief engineer of the mechanical engineering department Abdul Rashid Dar, in a bizarre reply, told The Wire that as soon as the oxygen units arrive, both Jammu and Kashmir divisions push the suppliers to get their share. “It is all about mounting the pressure, and it depends upon the supplier as far as the distribution of oxygen plants is concerned.”
The department is responsible for acquiring oxygen units in Kashmir.
According to the Hindustan Times report, Kashmir and Jammu divisions were allotted Rs 125 crore each to acquire 37 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen units for each division by March 31. However, in this case, it is not clear why Kashmir’s share of oxygen units is being diverted to Jammu after the shipment’s arrival.
He did not answer other queries The Wire raised on the diversion of the oxygen units to Jammu. He said, “I have nothing to do with what Jammu is getting. My concern is I should have my plants [in Kashmir] by the first week of June. Why should I give my plants to Jammu? I don’t know under whose pressure the supplying agency delivered the plants to Jammu.”
Pertinently, on May 17, Dar, while speaking to Hindustan Times, admitted that they have shifted a few plants to Jammu. “Only two plants of 1,000 LPM capacity have been diverted. Their contract had failed. We had secured our contract on time, so we are placing orders for six plants from here for Jammu for now,” he added.
The Wire also spoke to Kashmir’s director of health Dr Mushtaq about the diversion of oxygen units to Jammu, to which he said, “I don’t have any information regarding the diversion of oxygen units from Kashmir to Jammu. However, the valley has adequate supply of oxygen.” He added, “The mechanical engineering department will be the right department to speak about it.”
Notably, on Monday, another shipment of seven oxygen generating units was received at Srinagar airport by Baseer Ahmad Khan, advisor to the Lieutenant Governor, and Kashmir divisional commissioner P.K. Pole. “Out of the seven units, five are allotted to Kashmir, and two are allotted to the Jammu division,” said Dar.
On receiving the shipment of seven oxygen generating units, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, saying, “My deepest gratitude to Honble PM Narendra Modi for providing 7 Oxygen plants to JK UT. With his intervention, these Oxygen plants were airlifted by IAF_MCC from Munich, Germany and safely landed at Srinagar Airport today at 12:45PM.”
My deepest gratitude to Hon’ble PM @narendramodi for providing 7 Oxygen plants to JK UT. With his intervention, these Oxygen plants were airlifted by @IAF_MCC from Munich, Germany and safely landed at Srinagar Airport today at 12:45PM.#OxygenGenerationPlants pic.twitter.com/NM6zMsl9NQ
— Office of LG J&K (@OfficeOfLGJandK) May 17, 2021
According to official figures, of the 71,785 cases from May 1 to 17, 45,277 cases were reported in Kashmir and 26,508 in Jammu, while as the total caseload in the UT has mounted to 247,952, with active caseload increasing to 50,853 and death toll reaching to 3,222.
Jahangir Sofi is a journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir, and can be reached on Twitter @SofiJahangir3.