During the Covid second wave, like most other cities, Bhubaneswar was also reeling under oxygen shortage and with surging demand, price of oxygen cylinders skyrocketed and black marketing for the lifesaving gas was rampant.
In this scenario RID 3262 led by the then DG Saumya Rajan Mishra floated an idea to set up Oxybanks through Rotary clubs across the district. Project coordinators Pradeep Panda and S S Khadgaray worked out the strategy to procure 500 oxygen cylinders from Mumbai to be distributed among various Rotary clubs in the district. The clubs will in turn satisfy the oxygen needs of Covid patients under home isolation and in rural areas. The cylinders costing ₹16,000 each in the market was procured by the clubs at ₹8,400 after negotiations from the district office.
“The cylinders were due to arrive in Bhubaneswar by May-end. But the delivery was delayed due to cyclone Yaas on the Odisha coast disrupting the transport system,” said Smita Sinha, a member of RC Baramunda. Two Rotarians who had oxygen plants — Subranshu Samantaray, a member of RC Cuttack Midtown and Debabrata Swain — helped in refilling the cylinders free of cost.
The initiative was appreciated by RI President Shekhar Mehta and Rotary India Covid Task Force chair Ashok Mahajan.