Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an uncanny knack for making the right decisions with an eye to the future needs of the country. When his government decided to set up the PM CARES Fund, the Congress-led opposition slammed it, with some leaders raising questions about transparency and others calling it redundant on grounds that the country already had a similar purse called the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
Subsequent events have proved, however, that PM CARES Fund was a wise move. It has been especially helpful during the coronavirus crisis that has affected people in all parts of the country. Recently, a sum of Rs 201.58 crore was allocated from this fund for installation of 162 dedicated PSA medical oxygen generation plants in public health facilities across India.
Apart from other medical conditions that necessitate its use, the uninterrupted supply of oxygen is an essential prerequisite for managing moderate and severe cases of Covid-19. Now this requirement will be met through PM CARES Fund to deal with emergency situations. The installation of 162 dedicated pressure swing adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants in public health facilities will boost the country’s health infrastructure in a big way.
The project cost includes Rs 137.33 crore towards supply and commissioning of the plants and management fee of central medical supply store (CMSS) and around Rs 64.25 crore towards comprehensive annual maintenance contract. The procurement will be done through the central medical supply store, an autonomous body of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Complete transparency in such matters has been the norm under the Modi government.
Significantly, the move comes at a time when the country is getting ready to roll out the corona vaccine with plans for mass vaccination through its length and breadth. This speaks for the farsightedness of Prime Minister Modi who remains keenly aware of the need for capacity building to fight the COVID-19 pandemic despite the vaccination programme which will take some time to produce results.
The proposed PSA medical oxygen generation plants will have a total capacity of 154.19 MT, with installation to take place in consultation with the respective state governments and union territories. This is going to be a major step towards strengthening the public health system and enabling long-term systematic augmentation of medical oxygen availability in a cost-effective manner. It will not only increase the total oxygen availability pool of the states and UTs but also facilitate timely oxygen support for patients in the public health facilities where the plants will be installed.
Prime Minister Modi, during a recent video-teleconference with German chancellor Angela Merkel, also discussed Covid-19 vaccine development works in India and assured her of India’s commitment to deploy its capacities for global benefit. Like a true statesman, Modi has fast-tracked the work in India on the vaccine development front while keeping abreast of happenings in other parts of the world.