Citizen driven ‘Oxyzone’ steps up to provide free Oxygen to Covid patients in Kolkata

Last Modified Tuesday, 18 May 2021 (22:45 IST)
Kolkata:Amidst widespread shortage and a growing prices of medical in Kolkata, a citizen-led non-profit initiative by Prameya Foundation, known as ‘Oxyzone,’ has stepped forward to ensure availability of free oxygen to patients gasping for air.
Founded with the help of donations from ordinary citizens from different walks of life, this flagship COVID second wave response initiative by the foundation has already set up five
centres, the much-hailed ‘24x7 Breathing Spaces’ in Kolkata, where patients can come and
avail oxygen for free.
Availability of medical oxygen has been one of the key concerns during the devastating
Covid second wave, making the difference between life and death. It has been particularly
challenging for Covid patients suffering from dropping SPO2 levels to argrange for oxygen
without having to get admitted to hospitals.

Black marketing has resulted in unprecedented surge in oxygen prices and even those able to pay a high premium have been scouting for oxygen cylinders, concentrators and allied equipment as they are in acute shortage. At present ‘Oxyzone’ is operational in five locations – Sodepur, Salt Lake, Jadavpur, two in Khidderpore and plans are afloat to extend the service to more localities, including Bhowanipore, which is getting rolled out next.
 
The initiative has been entirely funded by donations from citizens and NRIs. Funding is key
to the success of the initiative since setting up Centres is a costly affair – each Centre
requires anywhere between Rs 1 - 2 lakhs to be set up with all necessary facilities like bed,
Oxygen, medical kits, etc.
 
Each Centre can cater to free oxygen requirement of nearly ten patients a day. Social media
has been the primary source for Oxyzone’s funding network so far with its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Oxyzone-107650771498531) giving it some reach. However, the
support is never enough given the enormity of the crisis, said Gargi Bhattacharya, one of the
founding members of Oxyzone.
 
“It has been a herculean collective effort to get up and running with the help of so
many well-wishers, yet there is so much more we can do in saving more precious lives if the
support continues to pour in. Oxygen has nearly become unaffordable and scarce and it is our
mission to ensure that the city of continues to breathe, as oxygen, is and should always be free,” said Bhattacharya.
 
Bhattacharya is the trustee of Prameya Foundation, whose Managing Trustee, Mukut Biswas,
has taken charge of operations of all the centres.“It is the need of the hour. The COVID second wave has struck with the force of a disaster and under these circumstances, we knew we had to do something,” says Biswas.
 
The five Oxyzone centres have cumulatively benefited several patients so far. “Oxyzone has
been a life saver for my mother as they were the only avenues we could find at a time of need
in the middle of the night at 1 am. The volunteer ensured that we got free oxygen at home when nothing else was available,” said Pinak Sarkar, a resident of Behala.

The present lockdown is, however, a challenge and authority’s support in the movement of volunteers would be key.Support from volunteers have been enormous. At present, nearly twenty citizens from all walks of life – students, professionals, doctors, nurses have voluntarily devoted their time to Oxyzone besides over 250 donors who have provided financial aid.
 
Other people initiatives such as Desh o Praan, Echoes Project, Change Initiatives, Help for
Hind, Aspire and Glee, Amarjyoti a NJ Non-Profit Corp, Indian Bengali Association of Montreal
(IBAM) and Prabaashe Bangali Adda have also joined hands with Prameya Foundation for this
noble cause.
 
Aspire and Glee and Change Initiatives are supporting a whole Oxyzone each, in their own
capacity, in Jadavpur and Salt Lake respectively.
 
“While we are trying our best to help people in need, availability of volunteers would always
be critical as manning each Centre needs enormous time and effort,” said, Debajyoti Chakrabory, one of the many frontline warriors of Oxyzone.
 
“We definitely need more and more volunteers in the days to come who can support us in
whatever capacity to actualise the collective dream of keeping the City of Joy breathing,” said Bhattacharya.
 
OXYZONE : Jadavpur (Near Chittaranjan Park) 8479056127 / 7980466187 / 7003096304 ;
Watgunj, Khidirpur (Opposite Bari Masjid) 9163617288 / 9836419292 ; Salt Lake City (GC Block Community centre) 6291307206 / 9903899556 / 9836870456 ; Sodepur (Abhijatri Sangha Club) 8240189045 / 8420976937 / 7439557014.(UNI)