Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Skill ministry to start course for oxygen tanker drivers

- Saubhadra Chatterji

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 Chennaibas­ed 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 conacross duct 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 liquid medical oxygen 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 Liquid Medical Oxygen 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. (88cm) recorded in India every year between June and September from 1961 to 2010.

In 2020 and 2019, the monsoon was above normal at 110% and 109% of LPA.

In 1996, 1997, and 1998, the monsoon was normal at 103.4%, 102.2%, and 104%, according to IMD.

India recorded 18% excess rain during the pre-monsoon period from March 1 to May 31. Of 36 subdivisio­ns, 17 recorded over 60% excess rainfall categorise­d as “large excess”.

Nine subdivisio­ns reported 20 to 59% excess rain in the “excess” bracket. Six subdivisio­ns received (-19 to 19%) rain categorise­d as “normal”. Only four subdivisio­ns received -59 to -20% rainfall.

Most of central, east, and west India recorded large excess rain including parts of peninsular India like Kerala, coastal Karnataka, Konkan, and Goa.

Most of northeast India and Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh were deficient.

“Monsoon is likely to progress to remaining parts of Kerala, some parts Karnataka, parts of Tamil Nadu, Rayalseema etc in the next two days. Monsoon flow is active,” said RK Jenamani, senior scientist at the national weather forecastin­g centre,

“There are chances of a monsoon depression developing between June 10 to 12 over northwest Bay of Bengal. This is good news because such monsoon depression­s help pull the monsoon current and entire east

India may be covered with support of the depression,” the official added.

tral or state government schemes.

Going by the NCPCR affidavit, the total number of children who were orphaned or lost a parent in the pandemic is 9,346, of whom 1,742 have been orphaned and 7,464 have lost one parent. Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday that the Supreme Court found discrepanc­ies in the data uploaded on the NCPCR website, Bal Swaraj, and anticipate­d that a far higher number of children were impacted by the pandemic.

The issue of children orphaned by Covid-19 became a flashpoint during the second wave of the pandemic when posts about such children did the rounds of social media, and some tried to adopt them before the government said such moves were in violation of existing laws governing adoption. According to the ministry of women and child developmen­t, 577 children were orphaned between April and May this year. But some experts argue that the number could be much higher.

Enakshi Ganguly, co-founder of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights said that the methodolog­y to calculate the number of such children has not been made clear by anyone so there is no way of knowing what the real numbers are. “Thousands of children are going to drop out of schools, what will the government do about that,” Ganguly said. “It seems the government’s decisions are window dressing. We need to reassess the entire concept of ‘Covid orphans’.”

The most number of affected children, 2,110 , are in Uttar Pradesh, according to NCPCR. Of them, 270 were orphaned, 1,380 lost one parent, and 10 were abandoned.

This is followed by Bihar, with 1,327 children of whom 292 were orphaned and 1,035 lost a parent. Kerala is third on the list, with 952 children of whom 49 were orphaned, 895 lost a parent and eight were abandoned.

Maharashtr­a is fourth in this list with 796 affected children of whom 80 were orphaned and 716 lost one parent.

Data also shows that 4,860 boys and 4,486 girls lost at least one parent. The greatest number of impacted children are between the ages of eight and 13 (3,711), followed by 16-17 (1,712), 14-15 (1,620), four and seven (1,515), and zero to three years (788).

The Commission said in its affidavit that children who have lost one of their parents, and where the surviving one is of limited means, need help. “Therefore, it is necessary that the children who are living with (their) surviving single parent are given the benefit of government implemente­d schemes and financial assistance.”

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