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How an IAS officer made a Maharashtra tribal district oxygen-sufficient
Today, the district has 150 vacant beds and two oxygen plants that have a combined capacity to produce 2,400 litres per minute.
The district collector of a small tribal-inhabited district in Maharashtra saw the deadly second wave of coronavirus disease coming and prepared a series of contingency plan, at a time when the country, including the western state, struggled to meet the logistical challenges that a gasping healthcare system posed.
A doctor-turned-bureaucrat, Dr Rajendra Bharud, the collector of Maharashtra’s Nandurbar has managed to keep the district running with an adequate supply of medical oxygen, hospital beds, isolation wards for Covid-19 patients and a well-planned vaccination drive.
Today, the district has 150 vacant beds and two oxygen plants that have a combined capacity to produce 2,400 litres per minute. Not only did the district manage to control the positivity rate of the infection but it also slashed it by around 30%. Its robust healthcare system has led many from the neighbouring region in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to seek admission in Nandurbar.
Nandurbar didn’t have any oxygen plant when the pandemic struck early last year. But Bharud got down to setting up a liquid oxygen plant in the tribal-inhabited district in September last year when the cases of coronavirus infection gradually began to go down.
He had anticipated that there the cases could go up any moment and that an oxygen plant could come in handy if more people fall sick because of the disease. Without much ado, he got a plant set up with a capacity of 600 litres per minute.
His fears came true in no time. According to media reports, when the second wave of Covid-19 hit Maharashtra this year, Nandurbar reported as many as 1,210 cases in a single day. Dr Bharud and his team felt that one oxygen plant was not enough, given how the people were contracting the disease.