India Covid crisis: Japan, UNDP reach out to northeast states with oxygen 

New Delhi Written By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: May 11, 2021, 01:17 PM IST


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The oxygen generation plants will be installed in the northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. Together, these oxygen plants can support 1,300 beds

The Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have partnered to provide oxygen to India's northeast, specifically by procuring eight Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) oxygen generation plants.

The development comes even as India faces a devastating surge of Covid impacting many through the length and breadth of the country. The oxygen generation plants will be installed in the northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura. Together, these oxygen plants can support 1,300 beds. 

Japanese envoy to India, Satoshi Suzuki, said, "Japan stands with India, our friend, and partner, in her efforts to fight against COVID-19 pandemic in this critical time".

"India’s northeast occupies a special place for Japan-India relations and I sincerely hope that the oxygen generation plants will help those people in need in the northeastern region of India.” 

As of now, installation sites are being prepared so that oxygen production can start as soon as possible. Meanwhile, any excess oxygen will be distributed to health facilities near the installation plant. Amid the Covid crisis, India's focus has been to get oxygen or oxygen production and carrying units like generators and tankers. Over the weekend, Japan has gifted 100 oxygen concentrators to India and has told New Delhi that it is ready to provide additional items worth $50 million to deal with Covid crisis.  

Resident Representative of UNDP India Shoko Noda said, “I would like to thank the people of Japan for this critical support that will allow UNDP to ensure uninterrupted flow of oxygen in hospitals and health centers in the region, especially those in hard-to-reach areas."  

It is important to remember that Japan's support to India's northeast is not new and the country is developing mega infrastructure and connectivity projects in the region, which could in future connect to neighboring countries like Bangladesh.  

Both sides also meet regularly under the Act East Forum that is co-chaired by Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and the Japanese envoy to India Suzuki Satoshi. Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) stands at over Rs 1600 crore in India's northeast and is supporting projects in several states in the north east.  

For example, in Guwahati, it is helping in sewerage projects and in Sikkim, in road development. Japan is also supporting the construction of the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge, whose foundation laying ceremony took place earlier this year. The bridge is going to be the longest river bridge in India and will cut short travel time across the Brahmaputra River from more than 8 hours to less than 30 minutes.