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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 02 August 2021 12.34 AM IST

India seeks logistics support from abroad as Covid-19 cases rise; UK, France extend help

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NEW DELHI: The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hit India the hardest, leaving the nation gasping for life-saving oxygen. A major challenge for India is not just the production of oxygen but also to store and transport it to various states -- Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, others, worst affected by the crisis.

To combat this, New Delhi has reached out to various countries to procure containers and oxygen cylinders to meet the growing demand of the element across the country, under operation 'Oxygen Maitri'.

While many countries have come forward expressing solidarity and extending assistance, India, under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Defence (MoD), has identified several countries to procure high capacity tankers/containers and oxygen gas cylinders.

India Today TV has learned that the procurement could be government to government (G2G) or commercially through private players.

The home ministry is currently coordinating with Singapore and the UAE to lift high-capacity tankers from abroad by Indian Air Force (IAF) transport planes. Sources told India Today TV that the lack of containers is a problem in ensuring quick transportation of oxygen.

Indian missions in the UAE and Singapore are in touch with concerned authorities and manufacturers to procure the containers, sources said.

They also said that on Tuesday, the Adani Group wrote a letter of interest to M/S Linde, Dammam in Saudi Arabia to procure oxygen cylinders. The Indian mission in Riyadh is aware of the request.

Linde-SIGAS is the leading manufacturer of all bulk, industrial, medical and specialty gases in Saudi Arabia, with operational and sales outlets spread throughout major cities of the country, according to their website.

The website adds, "Aside from reliable supply of gases of highest standards of purity and quality, we provide innovative solutions to make your business more productive. Through our sister company, Linde Engineering, we are also able to supply world-scale gas processing plant solutions. Find out more about our engineering services."

Besides oxygen tankers, which will be flown in by the IAF transport planes from the UAE and Singapore to augment oxygen supply, 23 mobile oxygen generation plants will also be airlifted from Germany which will be used in Armed Forces Medical Service hospitals treating Covid-19 patients. These oxygen-generating plants are expected to arrive in India within a week, sources claimed.

Each plant has a capacity to produce 40 litres of oxygen per minute and 2,400 litres an hour. At this rate, it can cater to 20-25 patients round the clock. The advantage of these plants is that they are easily portable. As of now, 23 such plants are being imported to India, sources confirmed.

Meanwhile, India's partners have been extending help and assistance as the country reels under the deadly Covid-19 crisis.

The European Union will be discussing the ongoing Covid-19 situation in India in the upcoming EU-India Lleaders' meeting on May 8, President of the European Council Charles Michel said.

In a tweet, Charles Michel said, "The #EU stands in solidarity with Indian people amidst resurgent #COVID19 pandemic. The fight against the virus is a common fight. We will discuss our support and cooperation at EU-India Leaders' meeting on 8 May with @narendramodi and @antoniocostapm".

To this, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar responded by saying, "Appreciated the support offered by EU on Covid challenges currently faced by India. Confident that EU will help strengthen our capabilities at this critical juncture."

French President Emmanuel Macron has also extended support to India.

In a tweet, France's envoy to India Emmanuel Lenain quoted Emmanuel Macron as saying, "I want to send a message of solidarity to the Indian people, facing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. France is with you in this struggle, which spares no-one. We stand ready to provide our support."

British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock also echoed similar remarks.

"Heartbreaking scenes from India. My thoughts are with our Indian friends. We stand ready to help fight this awful virus."

While India has responded positively to all the messages of support and solidarity, the country has been rather reticent to support coming from China and Pakistan.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Mr Zhao Lijian, answering to what help China is giving to India, during a regular media briefing in Beijing said, "We have noticed the relevant reports and China expresses sincere condolences to the recent deterioration of the situation in India. The Chinese government and the Chinese people firmly support the Indian government and people in fighting the pandemic, and are willing to provide support and assistance in accordance with the needs of the Indian side."

"The Chinese side is maintaining communication with the Indian side on this. China believes that the Indian people will be able to overcome the pandemic at an early date," he said.

The support has also poured in from Pakistan's civil society. Pakistan's Edhi Foundation offered India assistance to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.

Edhi Foundation's chairman Faisal Edhi on Friday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting permission to enter India with a team of volunteers and 50 ambulances to help assist in the pandemic.

In his letter, Faisal Edhi said that he seeks to lead the team himself.

In a letter to PM Modi, Faisal Edhi said, "We are very sorry to hear about the exceptionally heavy impact that the pandemic has had on your country, where a tremendous number of people are suffering immensely.... we would like to extend our help in the form of a fleet of 50 ambulances along with our services to assist you in addressing, and further circumventing, the current health conditions."

Faisal Edhi said that he only seeks permission from the Indian government to enter with the ambulances and a team, including emergency medical technicians, office staff, drivers and supporting staff.

"We will arrange all the necessary supplies that our team needs to assist the people of India. Importantly, we are not requesting any other assistance from you, as we are providing the fuel, food, and necessary amenities that our team will require," he said.

"We only request your permission to enter India as well as any necessary guidance from the local administration and police department," the letter said.

Among the top trends on Twitter in Pakistan is #IndiaNeedsOxygen where many people have requested Pakistan to help India out in these dire circumstances.

However, according to media reports, Islamabad is also facing a massive shortage of oxygen at this point.

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