COVID-19 surge: PM CARES Fund allocates funds for 551 oxygen plants in public health facilitiesThe decision came in the wake of oxygen shortages at hospitals in the country amidst a surge of COVID-19 cases
- The PM CARES Fund has approved allocation of funds for setting up 551 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants at public health facilities in the country.
- With 162 such plants approved earlier, the decision would lead to setting up of an oxygen plant in all districts with government hospitals.
- A tweet from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter handle about the development said: “Oxygen plants in every district to ensure adequate oxygen availability… An important decision that will boost oxygen availability to hospitals and help people across the nation. (Sic)”.
- The Fund had given in-principle approval to 551 PSA oxygen generation plants “in line with Prime Minister’s direction of boosting availability of oxygen to hospitals”. The decision came in the wake of oxygen shortages at hospitals in the country amidst a surge of COVID-19 cases.
- Prime Minister had ordered the plants to be set up as soon as possible and said they would boost oxygen availability at the district level.
- The plants would come up in selected government hospitals in district headquarters and the procurement would be done via the Health and Family Welfare Ministry.
- The basic aim behind establishing PSA oxygen generation plants at government hospitals in the district headquarters is to further strengthen the public health system and ensure that each of these hospitals has a captive oxygen generation facility. Such an in-house captive oxygen generation facility would address the day-to-day medical oxygen needs of these hospitals and the district.
- It added that the liquid medical oxygen would serve as a top-up to the captive oxygen generation.
- Such a system will go a long way in ensuring that government hospitals in the districts do not face sudden disruption of oxygen supplies and have access to adequate uninterrupted oxygen supply to manage the COVID-19 patients and other patients needing such support.
- The PM CARES Fund had allocated ₹201.58 crore for installation of 162 PSA medical oxygen generation plants in public health facilities earlier this year.
Source- The Hindu
- The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was created on 27 March 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
- The stated purpose of the fund is for combating, and containment and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic like situations in the future.
- Although the documentation for the constitution of the fund has not been made public, the Government of India has stated that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is the chairman of the fund, and that trustees include the Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh; Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, and Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Government of India.
- The PM CARES Fund has faced criticism for the lack of transparency and accountability in relation to its establishment, functioning, and accounts.
- The total amount of funds donated and the names of donors have not been publicly disclosed, and the fund is privately audited.
- The Government of India has initially claimed that the fund is a private fund, and denied that the PM CARES Fund is a public fund for the purposes of transparency laws such as the Right to Information Act 2005, even though the Fund uses government infrastructure and the national emblem of the Government of India.
- In December 2020, the Government of India reversed its stance and admitted that the PM CARES Fund was a public fund, but still refused to disclose information regarding it under the Right to Information Act 2005. There are currently several ongoing cases at the Supreme Court of India and several High Courts in relation to the Fund.