The Union power ministry has started a rapid immunization drive to vaccinate all central power sector personnel by May-end to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply during the pandemic, two government officials aware of the development said.
The drive plans to cover those working at state-run firms and also contractual workers, given that emergency services such as hospitals, medical oxygen plants and test labs depend on electricity.
“As part of this strategy, large-scale covid vaccination drives are being undertaken for the safety of power sector personnel for ensuring uninterrupted 24×7 power supply,” said one of the people cited above, both of whom requested anonymity.
The ministry also wants personnel of all central, state government and private entities in power distribution, transmission and generation to be treated at par with frontline workers. In a communication to health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, power secretary Alok Kumar said this will enable them to discharge their duties efficiently and effectively, given that power supply is an emergency service. Mint has seen a copy of the letter.
India’s vaccination drive began on 16 January with healthcare workers, while the vaccination of frontline workers started on 2 February.
The next phase of vaccination commenced from 1 March for those above 60 years of age, and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions. Beginning 1 April, India opened vaccination to those above 45 years, with jabs for all adults starting on 1 May under phase 3. However, the vaccine shortage has led to a slowdown in India’s vaccination drive.
“I have written to Union health secretary and chief secretaries of the states for rapid immunization of the power sector personnel, given the critical nature of the function that they perform,” power secretary Kumar told Mint.
“We have requested the health secretary to consider the power sector personnel as frontline workers for their vaccination. We have requested him to take up the issue with the states as well, given that the vaccination exercise is now being carried out by the state governments,” he added.
Queries emailed to the spokesperson of the ministry of health and family welfare late on Sunday night remained unanswered till press time.
The power ministry has stepped up efforts to ensure continuous supply of electricity to medical oxygen plants across the country, and along with state electricity distribution companies is conducting an audit of electricity supply to all medical oxygen-producing plants in the country.
Also, state-run Rural Electrification Corp. has been appointed as the nodal agency for monitoring power supply to 73 major oxygen-generation plants in India, as reported by Mint earlier.
India has an installed power generation capacity of 382.15 gigawatts.
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