Two of the largest manufacturers of oxygen cylinders,
and Rama Cylinders have stopped production for the past two days due to a shortage of oxygen as supplies meant for industries have been diverted for medical usage, said people in the know. The companies need about two tonnes of oxygen a day each as part of the heat treatment process for manufacturing seamless cylinders.
The shortage of oxygen has impacted the working of several other cylinder makers too in the Kandla Special Economic Zone in Gujarat and elsewhere in the country, ET has learned.
“We are requesting everybody in the government to allocate a consistent supply of oxygen to enable us to run the factory and manufacture the cylinders which are direly needed in the country,” said an executive at Everest Kanto Cylinder Limited, a company listed on the bourses.
The authorities face the hard choice of whether to allocate oxygen for manufacturing more cylinders or to focus it towards hospitals sending out SOS signals as their supplies dry up. The situation has been worsened due to the reported hoarding of cylinders by the public out of fear.
“There is a heavy supply shortage of containers, cylinders. Many individuals are not returning the cylinders back. This is causing a huge issue,” said VR Sharma, managing director of
(JSPL). The company is among many who produce oxygen for consumption at their manufacturing plants but have presently diverted all oxygen produced towards medical usage.
The issue comes at a time when oxygen production in the country is in excess of the medical demand but transporting of oxygen remains a bottleneck.
“Manufacturing oxygen is the easiest. But delivering is the issue, the problem lies with the supply chain,” Siddharth Jain, director at Inox Air Products, India’s second-largest independent oxygen manufacturer.
Along with cylinders, there is a similar shortage of large cryogenic containers that can ferry oxygen in a liquid state.
Cylinder makers say that oxygen isn’t the only resource in scarcity. Availability of manpower too has gone down as Covid-19 infections surge in the country. Employees on the shop floor are increasingly reporting sick, adding another challenge to cylinder production, said an employee at Rama Cylinders asking not to be named.
“There are unlimited problems in the way of production right now,” this person said.
The Indian Government last week sped up the clearance process for the import of oxygen cylinders and 16 other medical devices amidst shortage in the country.