The Centre on Sunday said that the Indian Railways will run special trains to supply oxygen to states and Union Territories that are facing an acute shortage of oxygen supply.

With nearly 20 lakh people currently infected with coronavirus in India, oxygen is running out, despite many states redirecting all industrial oxygen production to medical purposes. States such as Maharashtra and Delhi have complained about the scarcity. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said the production of medical-grade oxygen was being doubled, while the government said on Thursday that it would import 50,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen.

The Ministry of Railways said that a green corridor was being set up for the movement of these “Oxygen Express” trains. They will supply liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders. The statement said that the decision was taken after Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra approached the ministry to check whether the Railways could move liquid medical oxygen.

Railway Board officials and state transport commissioners conducted a meeting on Saturday to discuss problems faced in the transportation of oxygen. “It was decided that the tankers would be organised by transport commissioner, Maharashtra,” the statement said. “These empty tankers would be moved from Kalamboli, Boisar railway stations in and near Mumbai, and sent to Vizag [Visakhapatnam] and Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Bokaro, for loading of liquid medical oxygen tankers from there.”

It said that Maharashtra Transport Secretary Avinash Dhakne will provide the tankers needed for transportation on April 19.

Meanwhile, Union Transport Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted that 50 Covid-19 isolations coaches with 800 beds have been set up at Shakur Basti Station and 25 coaches will be available at the Anand Vihar Station in Delhi. He said that the Railways can set up more than 3 lakh beds across the country on demand from the states.

Meanwhile, India on Sunday reported 2,61,500 new coronavirus cases, an unprecedented figure since the pandemic broke out in January 2020, to take its tally to 1,47,88,109. With 1,501 deaths, the toll jumped to 1,77,150. The country has recorded over 2 lakh infections for the fourth consecutive day.