A gas manufacturer in Jammu is providing free oxygen to poor Covid-19 patients in Jammu and Kashmir at a time when its shortage has led to loss of lives across states and engendered a healthcare crisis in the country, grappling with the highly virulent second wave of Covid- 19, resulting in a record number of new patients being reported daily.
Manu Rana, the proprietor of Raj Gas Industries, located in Jammu, has been providing oxygen cylinders free of cost to the poor.
“On Sunday, we distributed approximately 80 oxygen cylinders. On an average, we are distributing over 100 cylinders free to the needy people. However, those who can afford are being charged for it,” said Rana. Though he launched the initiative about two weeks ago, enquiries picked up pace since Sunday after his message was put out on social media and he has given away nearly 500 oxygen cylinders so far till now. On Monday, he distributed around 40 to 45 cylinders.
The number of Covid cases are also on the rise in Jammu and Kashmir but has not reached overwhelming proportions as seen in many other Indian states, where several patients have died after hospitals ran out of oxygen supplies, resulting in Central government diverting the life-saving gas to crisis-ridden states with the help of railways and air force aircraft among other modes of transport. The number of patients requiring oxygen support has drastically increased in the ongoing second wave of Covid-19, largely driven by the new double-mutant variant virus. Rana’s initiative at such a time is inspirational for many.
Sunny Khajuria, a Covid patient’s relative, who came to Rana’s office to check if the free oxygen cylinder offer was true, was left pleasantly surprised. “It’s a very good initiative. Others should also get inspiration from them. These are difficult times and the people with means should chip in with their bit to save others.”
Rana’s Raj Gas Tower office, located at Gandhi Nagar in the city, is currently the base of his philanthropic operation. He is currently giving 10 litres of free oxygen to each person, who must bring their own cylinders to get their quota.
“…it is more than sufficient to meet the requirement of a Covid patient. How long it lasts depends upon its usage. If the oxygen level is less than 80%, the patient has to inhale oxygen for 10 to 15 minutes and the level will go up to 93 to 94%. They should use it judiciously,” said Rana.
He says his plant at Samba industrial estate was presently filling over 300 cylinders daily and could easily scale up if the situation in J&K deteriorates.
“We have 20 kl set up with us, biggest in J&K. We have two tanks of 20 kl capacity each,” said Rana. One kiloleter equals 10,000 litres. Rana says his move was driven by his desire to give back to society at a crucial time.
“We just want to ensure people don’t die due to scarcity of oxygen,” he said before handing out his phone numbers–0191-2459144, 9419187356 and email address – email@example.com for anyone who needs help with oxygen.
Financial commissioner health and medical education Atal Dulloo appreciated the initiative saying, “anyone who can be of help to the poor under these trying circumstances should come forward. …Every drop matters but much more needs to be done.”
Dulloo, however, clarified that there was no shortage of oxygen in hospitals across Jammu and Kashmir, but described the situation as “challenging.”
The Jammu and Kashmir government has approved establishment of 36 oxygen generation plants to cater to the rising demand for oxygen. A total of 1743 Covid beds were also available out of the 3,062 across the UT. Similarly, 203 Covid ICU beds out of 338 were vacant. In Jammu region, there are 1,354 Covid dedicated beds, out of which 577 are occupied. The region has 227 Covid ICU beds, of which 126 were vacant till Monday.
Kashmir has 1708 Covid dedicated beds, out of which 742 were occupied till Monday. Similarly, out of the 111 Covid ICU beds, 77 were lying vacant till Monday.