Kathmandu-based oxygen plants suspend supplying oxygen to industriesManufacturers say they have agreed, in principle, to halt supply to industries to ensure that oxygen could be sent to hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.
Oxygen manufacturers based in Kathmandu Valley have said that they have suspended supplying oxygen to industries amid surging demand from the hospitals in the wake of growing hospitalisation cases of Covid-19 patients.
According to the Oxygen Industries Association, which represents eight oxygen manufacturers in the Valley, currently, they are supplying around 6,000 cylinders per day, out of their combined capacity of 8,000 cylinders per day.
Even though oxygen cylinders in different sizes are available in the market, cylinders with size of seven cubic meters are mostly used in hospitals.
“We have suspended supplying oxygen to industries for the last two-three days,” said Gaurav Sharda, president of the association. “Members of the association agreed to suspend the supply to the industries collectively so that hospitals can acquire enough of the live-saving gas.”
Industries related to welding, grill and glass industries usually use oxygen.
According to the association, of the total supplies, 30 percent go towards industries in normal times.
“Until recently, the demand for both hospitals and industries was around 6,000 cylinders per day. We are not supplying equivalent quantities of oxygen to the hospitals only in the Kathmandu Valley,” said Sharda, who is also the director of Kantipur Oxygen Pvt Ltd.
The association said though they have agreed, in principle, to suspend supplies to the industries, a formal decision is yet to be taken.
“No decision has been taken in writing. But we have reached a consensus to suspend supply to industries until the Covid-19 situation improves,” said Narayan Timilsina, general secretary of the association.
He, however, said that the government needs to issue circular asking manufacturers to suspend oxygen supply to industries to ensure that the entire production of oxygen is supplied to hospitals.
“This will help in ensuring smooth supply of oxygen to hospitals,” said Timilsina, who is also chairperson of Sagarmatha Oxygen Nepal Pvt Ltd.
Nepal is battling the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with daily cases soaring and hospital beds filling up. Hospitals are struggling to ensure oxygen supplies for critical patients.
Not all hospitals in Nepal have their own oxygen plants.
Out of 185 hospitals across the country, only 26 have oxygen plants and not all of them are in operation, according to the health ministry.
Even though the Kathmandu-based hospitals have not reported an acute shortage of oxygen yet, some hospitals outside the Valley where coronavirus patients have been admitted, have complained about shortages of oxygen, according to reports.
Manufacturers said a number of oxygen plants set up by private firms have remained shut and reopening them could be helpful in increasing supply.
The Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital said one of its oxygen plants is also not operating currently due to the lack of necessary kits.
Meanwhile, the government has also decided to grant tax exemptions including customs duty, value-added tax and excise duty on imports of oxygen cylinders, asking the manufacturers to import over 20,000 cylinders.
The manufacturers said that even with existing cylinders, more oxygen supply to the hospitals could be managed provided the hospitals return the cylinders in a timely manner once they are empty.