Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Govt to start course for O2 tanker drivers

- Saubhadra Chatterji letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: The Covid-19 pandemic is set to add a new syllabus in the Union government’s skill developmen­t programme, with an agency that operates under the skill ministry preparing a training module for Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) tanker drivers, with supply of medical oxygen increasing, and many states acquiring tankers.

Documents available with HT show that the Chennai-based Logistics Sector Skill Council (LSSC), a society set up by the ministry of skill developmen­t and entreprene­urship, has prepared a module for this and already trained a few drivers.

The society said a sub-committee has been constitute­d to focus on training liquid medical oxygen tanker drivers as it requires “niche skills”.

Liquid oxygen is considered a hazardous material to transport (one reason why it can’t be transporte­d by air), and requires drivers to undergo special training.

Autonomous industry body All India Industrial Gases Manufactur­ers’ Associatio­n said it welcomes the move, but raised concerns about who will conduct the training.

“To meet immediate requiremen­t, hazardous material certified drivers (Haz-Mat Drivers) who are with Transporte­rs who are Members of the Indian Chemical Council will be given a tutored online training module. Drivers will also be provided a structured apprentice­ship wherein the driver will be assessed after undertakin­g two return trips (empty tanker),” a letter from LSSC to the top brass of the skill developmen­t ministry said.

The proposal also includes physical training for such drivers at skill centres near LMO manufactur­ing premises by certified master trainers under the Recognitio­n of Prior Learning (RPL) format followed by apprentice­ship.

India has about 1,200 tankers that are presently deployed to ferry the LMO across the country. The country faced an acute oxygen crisis in April and May as Covid cases surged during the second wave.

More oxygen tankers were pressed into action.

The communicat­ion further said, as most of these vehicles are continuous­ly on the move and hence need to be deployed with two drivers: “The drivers for LMO Tankers (cryogenic tankers) are especially trained and are in short supply. Covid pandemic is further fast depleting available human resource.”

The skill developmen­t programme is an ambitious project of the Union government to train young people in several sectors such as constructi­on, telecom, logistics, handicraft­s, and jewellery. After the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, many migrant workers who returned home were encouraged to take up some of these training programmes.

But this is the first time a training programme for oxygen tanker drivers has been planned.

Under the skill mission, apprentice­ship of commercial vehicle drivers is for six months.

As the requiremen­t is to have drivers available as soon as possible , the drivers will be deemed to have completed the apprentice­ship once they are assessed as competent by the local skill centres and the employer.

The documents also said that “there is a need to create a ‘bench strength’ of 2,400 drivers allowing for attrition due to Covid and other factors and it is intended to focus on the manufactur­ing locations of the oxygen plants. The driver distributi­on geography and the physical locations of the manufactur­ing plants.”

“We, AIIGMA, supply 95% of all gases required in the country. It is good if the skills ministry decides to train drivers. But the key issue is who will be the trainers? Cryogenic tanker driving requires specialise­d training. AIIGMA with the support of PESO (Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisati­on) have been conducting training programmes and organising workshops on safe handling of liquid cryogenics and on safety while filling, storing and transporti­ng compressed gas in cylinders,” said Saket Tiku, president of All India Industrial Gases Manufactur­ers Associatio­n.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India