Assam health, education, finance and PWD minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that he can deliver 20 MT of oxygen per day to Delhi, if the Delhi govt sends tankers to pick it up. The NEDA convenor was responding to AAP Founder & National Council member Rajesh Sharma on Twitter, who was trying to find holes in the claims of oxygen availability in Assam made by the Assam minister.
The argument started when one AAP leader from Assam named Dr Bhaben Choudhury said that there is no vaccine available at Guwahati Medical College Hospital. He sposted a screenshot of the Arogya Setu app, and said that it is showing no vaccine slots available when Himanta Biswa Sarma has claimed that 5 lakh doses are available.
This tweet reached the AAP founder, and said that while Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed about installation of 5 oxygen plants in Assam, people of Assam don’t know about a single one. He also repeated the claims of Choudhury on vaccines, and tagged the Twitter handle of Sarma.
To this, the Assam health minister responded with the details of new oxygen plants installed in the state, saying that 3 oxygen plants in Guwahati Medical College Hospital, 2 in Assam Medical College Hospital in Dibrugarh, 2 in Jorhat Medical College Hospital, and one each in the Medical College Hospitals in Diphu, Tezpur and Barpeta, and 1 in the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury hospital has been installed. He also added that 3 private sector plants in Samuguri, Bongaigaon and Amingaon are there.
“What kind of proof you want? Please tell me. At least I am not Arvind Kejriwal”, Sarma challenged Sharma.
The AAP leader thought that he found a great hole in the claims of the Assam minister, as he is only talking about PSA oxygen generators installed in the hospitals. He said that these plants are not even capable to refill oxygen cylinders of ambulances. “You are health minister of Assam for last 20 years”, Rajesh Sharma added, implying that Himanta Biswa Sarma knows nothing about oxygen plants despite being the health minister for so long.
However, Rajesh Sharma was misinformed, because although the BJP leader mentioned the new PSA plants installed in the hospitals in Assam, the fact is that Assam already has industrial oxygen generation plants that produce liquid oxygen, and many more are coming up in the next few weeks, which can be filled into cylinders. Himanta Sarma said that the state has 4 such plants producing 42 MT more than the current demand in the state, and he can send 20 MT per day to Delhi as of now. “Send your tankers and I will refill the tankers. My promise”, he added.
After this open offer, Rajesh Sharma was forced to change tune after this offer from the minister, and responded that Delhi does not have cryogenic tankers as it is not an industrial state. So he requested Sarma to arrange the tankers too, saying it will be a great help for the people of Delhi.
Responding to Himanta Biswa Sarma saying that he is not Arvind Kejriwal, Rajesh Sharma said that he can’t be Kejriwal, who has “revolutionized whole education & health system in Delhi in just 7 years”. Himanta Sarma questioned what kind of revolution the Delhi CM has done in the health system, citing the present Covid-19 situation in the city-state. “We don’t want that time of revolution in Assam”, he said. He also invited Rajesh Sharma to vising Assam to see the plants if has any courage.
While the AAP leaders try to mock other states on the oxygen situation when the state under its rule is facing the most severe shortage of the gas, Assam govt has taken several steps to ensure that adequate oxygen is available in case Covid-19 cases surge in the state. There are four existing oxygen generation plants in the private sector in Assam, and in recent weeks, the state govt has made arrangements for the supply of oxygen from several other plants. Some plants which were not used for years are being revived, apart from installing PSA plants in the hospitals.
The Assam govt has also signed an MoU with a plant in Dimapur to source oxygen, which was operating only 2 days a week due to low demand in Nagaland. Now the plant will run 7 days a week, and Assam will get oxygen on 5 days. Apart from this, Assam will also get 40 MT oxygen from a plant in Bhutan which is being set up two private companies from Assam and Bhutan. The work on the plant was stalled due to lockdown in the Himalayan nation, but it has been resumed after the MEA talked to Bhutan govt on the request of Assam govt.