Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has virtually laid the foundation stone of the country's first-ever liquefied oxygen plant. The plant is being set up at Simarhawa of Rupandehi district.

While laying the foundation stone from his official residence Baluwatar, PM Oli observed that it was an unprecedented event of happiness at a time when the country had been reeling under acute crisis of oxygen in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19.

"During the second wave of COVID-19, we faced huge shortage of oxygen and cylinders," he said, adding that the government was compelled to import oxygen and other health essentials. "Later, the government thought that it would be prudent to set up an oxygen plant on its own," he said.

"Considering the oxygen requirement in hospitals, the government brought the policy of installing oxygen plant in hospitals having more than 100 beds.

The oxygen plant in Rupandehi can produce 60 metric tonnes of oxygen on a daily basis which can refill 7,000 big oxygen cylinders," he said.

He credited entrepreneur Shankar Agrawal who made continued efforts to set up a liquid oxygen plant at a time when the second wave of COVID-19 was at its peak. PM Oli also said that the government was ready to waive customs tax to encourage the establishment of as many oxygen plants as possible in the country.

Furthermore, he opined that surplus oxygen produced from those plants could be exported to neighbouring countries or utilised for industrial purposes once the pandemic was over.

On a different note, the PM said the government was mulling over its strategic plan to take care of those children who lost their parents to COVID-19.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 14, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.