BEGUSARAI: At the peak of the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this month, a north Bihar district was left rattled when one of the major oxygen plants there stopped functioning.
Late in the evening of May 4, the Darbhanga-based plant which refills more than 1,500 oxygen cylinders per day, developed a major snag and the jittery administration got in touch with adjoining Begusarai, which has a better industrial base, hoping that those with the required skills and paraphernalia could be found there.
"We received a call from the district magistrate of Begusarai in the night seeking help which was essential to restore functioning of the plant since there has been a very heavy demand of oxygen during the current outbreak," an official at the National Thermal Power Corporation, Barauni, said.
Notably, besides being a densely populated district itself, it is home to Darbhanga Medical College Hospital (DMCH), one of the oldest public health facilities in Bihar, which caters to patients from many adjoining districts.
"Our men contacted those working at the Darbhanga- based plant Gupta Air Products to assess the nature of the problem and decide the course of action to be adopted," the NTPC official said.
"They said there was a rupture in SS tubular pipe that connects the pump to oxygen cylinders and local technicians were not able to fix the snag.
Two personnel of our mechanical maintenance department were directed to leave for Darbhanga at once along with a spare tubular pipe, welding rods, spanners and other equipment," he said.
The men left at around 11.30 pm and reached the destination, nearly 50 kms away, well past midnight.
Getting down to work immediately, they toiled through the night and functioning of the plant was restored by 3 am of May 5.
Subsequently, the NTPC here has received calls and notes of thanks from administrative officials concerned for the timely service they provided, going out of their way, thereby averting an impending crisis that could have major consequences amid the spike in COVID-19 cases.
"What we did was in line with the social responsibility we carry as an essential service provider. Although many of our own personnel have fallen prey to the dreaded virus, our functioning has remained unimpeded," the NTPC official said with a touch of humility.