Dubai: UAE and Indian corporates, community groups and individual volunteers continue to offer support with medical oxygen for COVID-ravaged India.
MA Yusuff Ali, chairman of Lulu Group International has pledged an amount of Dh2.5 million towards the Kerala Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to support the COVID-19 relief works. This was disclosed by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a press conference on Saturday evening.
O.V. Mustafa, UAE-based director of Nork Roots department for expatriate Keralites, said the Kerala CM has requested all expats to support by sourcing immediately required medical supplies especially oxygen-related equipment for Kerala.
“The Government of India has exempted the import duty on all such items. The Government of Kerala has authorised Norka as the nodal agency to handle the collection of the items from abroad. Overseas friends of Kerala, primarily the NRIs from Kerala, are trying to mobilise the collection of these items and ship them to help the state in its fight against the rapidly worsening COVID-situation.”
He said community groups, corporates and individuals from the UAE would be taking part in the initiative to mobilise oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, ventilators and other intensive care unit medical equipment.
Several individuals are also sending aid through various private and government agencies. Ravi Chand, the founder director of AmbedkarGlobal.com, said he coordinated the efforts of NRIs from different countries and sent medical aid procured from Dubai to the state of Bihar through the Indian Red Cross Society.
“We have sent 50 oxygen flow meters besides 5,000 high-quality masks, ten oximeters, PPE kits, multivitamins, surgical caps and sanitisers. We will be sending more PPE kits and other safety equipment to the informal workers who perform the last rites of the COVID victims at cremation ghats in Bhojpur and PPE kits, surgical caps, sanitisers and high-quality thermoses and lunch boxes for health-care worker,” Chand said.
Over Dh5 million aid through temple
Donors and supporters of the BAPS Hindu Mandir, the first Hindu temple coming up in Abu Dhabi, have provided oxygen resources at a cost exceeding Dh5 million.
Under the aegis of the temple management, more than 25 volunteers in the UAE and over 1,000 volunteers in India are helping to build a logistical network and a supply chain — for medical equipment, oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders and liquid oxygen tanks — that can be scaled up in an ongoing basis.
Ashok Kotecha, the chairman of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, said the first of the cryogenic oxygen tanks reached India on Thursday morning. “Volunteers are coordinating with the government to assure that the tanks are routed to the areas that are most in need.”
He said the first 44 metric tonne of oxygen had been sent for patients at government and non-profit hospitals in different areas in Gujarat. “After this, the tanks will return to the UAE to be refilled. In this way, with the logistical support of the Transworld Group, this supply chain will be able to add to the oxygen capacity by 440 metric tonnes in the coming weeks.”
Reaching out to villages
Along with these liquid oxygen tanks contributed by Global Gases Group, he said, BAPS has been able to source more than 1,600 filled cylinders and 1,000 concentrators with the support of the Indian community in the UAE. These medical support items are increasing the reach of the aid to the smallest of village clinics and hospitals.
Integral to this process has been the support of the government both in identifying needy hospitals and by waiving the customs charges and Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all aid, Kotecha said.
“Along with these efforts, BAPS has been able to treat more than 4,000 COVID-19 patients in its four institutional hospitals and a field hospital and COVID care centre. Our supplies have gone beyond the cities, as we distribute oxygen tanks to small villages which are logistically difficult to reach” he added.
UAE corporates also pitch in
Pavan Kapoor, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, appreciated the support from the expat groups, companies and individuals. “We are very encouraged by the efforts of individuals and groups from the diaspora here to assist the ongoing efforts particularly in the oxygen-related supply chain,” he said.
Appreciating the timely support from the UAE corporate groups, the ambassador confirmed that seven tankers of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) had been supplied to India with the support of DP World and three more were sent with the support of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. “DP World is also supporting with free shipment of all these tankers,” he added. He said one of the major challenges being faced in India was the movement of medical oxygen. “This needs specialised cryogenic containers which are not available.”
The UAE was the first Gulf country to rush medical supplies by plane to India last month when COVID-19 cases surged in the ‘second wave’ of infections. Supplies from the UAE government included 157 ventilators, 480 Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machines and Favipiravir medicine.