Karnataka Chief Secretary Ravi Kumar told TNM they have not received anything from the Union government so far.

A man wearing an oxygen mask, woman in front of him wearing mask and gloves holding up oxygen mask
news Oxygen Tuesday, May 04, 2021 - 20:28

Karnataka, one of the worst affected states by the second wave of coronavirus infections, faces a lack of liquid oxygen supply, even leading to deaths in hospitals in the state. In an interview to TNM, Karnataka Chief Secretary  P Ravi Kumar told TNM that the state government has purchased 400 oxygen concentrators to help during the crisis, and is expecting another 600 that they have purchased.

Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar told TNM that Karnataka urgently requires more liquid oxygen urgently, and the government even wrote to the Union government last week to communicate this. 

“The medical oxygen allotted earlier to us was 300 tonnes per day, it was increased to 865 tonnes. But we will need 1792 tonnes per day, and we have informed the Union government,” the chief secretary told TNM.

Ravi Kumar said 400 concentrators have been donated, and the Confederation of Indian Industry has committed to donating 600 oxygen concentrators to Karnataka. Similarly, Xiaomi has announced that it will be spending over Rs 3 crore to donate oxygen concentrators to hospitals in the worst affected states, including Karnataka. 

However, as Scroll reported on Monday, while grants were landing in the country, state governments had not received them. According to Scroll, in 25 days, the country has got 5,500 oxygen concentrators and 3,200 oxygen cylinders, amongst other things.

However, the report adds that six state governments do not know if they are receiving any of the aid, and when they will be receiving it. 

“No domestic flights have taken off to carry the supplies to other parts of India, nor have states been informed about their share by the Centre,” the report states.

According to India Today, medical supplies from foreign countries began arriving from April 25, but the Centre only formed an SOP and notified the procedure. on how it would distribute this aid only on May 2 — a full week later.

Hours after Scroll's report, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare claimed that a “streamlined and systematic mechanism for allocation of the support supplies” has been put in place to distribute the material it has received. The government said that Karnataka was one of the states to receive aid or that it has been dispatched, but did not mention details for any states.

The government said the allocations are done “keeping in mind equitable distribution and the load on tertiary health care facilities.” This was for states which have AIIMS and other central institutions. 

Grant-in-aid, the government said, has to be “optimally utilised” by allocating to states with a high number of active cases, as the grant is limited. It also said there is special focus on states considered as medical hubs of the region, which have a patient in-flow from neighbouring states/cities. By both these metrics, Karnataka qualifies for aid. 

It also said that another aspect that was considered is the requirements of high burden states with respect to the number of persons admitted in hospitals as well as prior distribution done from resources from the government. Karnataka qualifies by this metric as well, with a severe shortage of beds. 

“24 different categories of items numbering nearly 40 lakhs have been distributed to 86 Institutions in different States,” it adds. This includes machines such as oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, PSA Oxygen Plants and pulse oximeters. However in this list too, no institutes in Karnataka have been mentioned.

Read: 'We don't have enough medical oxygen, need more': Karnataka Chief Secretary to TNM

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