Pakistani Oxygen manufacturing companies have expressed willingness to supply the gas to India which is facing acute oxygen shortage in the wake of second wave of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
“ We are ready to provide oxygen to our neighbouring country if government allows us to do so,” says Ateeq Ahmad Khan, the Chief Executive of Ghani Gases, the company that is meeting about 50 percent of medical oxygen needs of Pakistan.
The oxygen manufacturing plants , mainly located in Southern Pakistan town of Karachi and in Punjab province, are presently producing over 700 tonnes of the gas daily.
“ Presently, ninety percent of the Oxygen gas is being consumed by the patients at hospitals and homes , mainly by the corona positive ones. But we still have a big capacity cushion,” said Ateeq Ahmad Khan.
Another Oxygen manufacturer, Hafiz Farooq Ahmad said that Pakistan had not the capacity to provide oxygen to India in bulk . “ We can provide a token quantity of the gas to the neighbor, just to show our solidarity,”
In Pakistan, industrial gases especially oxygen have not been a priority of the government and the private sector in the past. It is the corona crisis, that has forced the industry to jack up its production capacity.
Meanwhile, a member of Indian parliament from Amristar, the town located just 50 kilometres away from Pakistan’s eastern town of Lahore has suggested to Indian Prime Minister to accept Pakistani offer of cross-border gas supply and called for developing an Oxygen corridor from Pakistan during COVID-19 crisis.
According to Indian media, Member Parliament (MP) and Congress leader Gurjeet Singh Aujla has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a special ‘oxygen corridor’ from Pakistan.
The Amritsar MP’s letter came following Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer to help India in tackling the steep increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in the capital New Delhi.
As a gesture of solidarity, the Pakistan government has offered ventilators and medical equipment to India. However, the Indian government has yet to respond to these offers.
In his letter, Aujla wrote that India’s hospitals are facing an alarmingly high shortage of liquid oxygen, ventilators, BiPAPs, oxygenators, PPE etc. due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. “In response to this emergency our neighbouring countries have offered help which should be welcomed with open arms. The government of Pakistan and Edhi Foundation has offered to provide relief support to India to help us fight this deadly wave of Covid-19,” he wrote.
The letter read: “I represent the holy city of Amritsar, which is located on Indo-Pak international border; around 350 kms from Panipat in Haryana (nearest oxygen plant) and just 50 kms from Lahore, Pakistan. The daily requirement of oxygen in government and private hospitals in Amritsar is around 30 tons whereas the allocated quota for Punjab is too less and that too is in feeble supply. Amritsar is presently receiving oxygen supply from Panipat in truck-tankers which is not a reliable system of uninterrupted supply as there are not enough and spare truck-tankers available to cover for breakdowns.”
On April 23, Pakistan’s noted human rights activist Faisal Edhi, managing trustee of the Edhi Foundation had written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending help with 50 fleet ambulances from his organisation. Edhi has also offered medical assistance in addressing the current health conditions in the country.