Karnataka Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar on Wednesday said that the Union government had “in-principle” agreed to the state’s proposal of utilising the oxygen produced within Karnataka. Shettar, who was tasked with managing oxygen supply to all hospitals in Karnataka, met the concerned officials in Bengaluru, seeking to stop the supply of oxygen to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra since the state was falling short of the required 67 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen required for domestic use.
“The Union government is likely to issue a circular enabling the state government to utilise all oxygen produced within the state,” he told the media. The state supplies 145 MT oxygen to Telangana, 63MT to Andhra Pradesh and 40 MT to Maharashtra. Shettar said that the Union Ministers Piyush Goel, Sadananda Gowda and Prahalad Joshi played a vital role in convincing the Union government to allow Karnataka to use the oxygen produced within the state.
Answering a question, Shettar said that the state still faces a shortage of around 67 MT of oxygen. "We need to bridge this gap of 67 MT as soon as possible, and therefore, the state government has sought the exemption from supplying oxygen at a time of such crisis," he explained.
According to him, after the Supreme Court order allocating 1,200 MT of oxygen to Karnataka, the Union government has increased Karnataka's share to 1,015 MT from 965 MT. "Out of 1,015 MT, 765 MT is the allocation from within the state from our six main producers, 60 MT is from MSME PSA plants that have been authorised by the Union government, and 190 is to be brought from other states (160 from Orissa and 30 from Visakhapatnam)," he explained. He added that in the last one week, the state's supplies on an average remained at 875 MT on a day-to-day basis, which translates into a shortage of around 67 MT of oxygen.
The minister said that Karnataka has started district-wise oxygen allocation based on the active cases, besides monitoring the daily supply of liquid medical oxygen at oxygen refilling stations and their supply to the allotted hospitals. Shettar said that aviation giant Boeing will be giving a 1,000 LPM (litres per minute) capacity oxygen plant to the ESI Hospital in Kalaburgi, which will be operational on May 22. “By next week, a 500 LPM oxygen plant will be set up in Virajpet, Kodagu; two 500 LPM oxygen generator plants have become operational in Kolar Gold Field (KGF) and Yadgir," he said.
Apart from these, Karnataka's efforts are also on to revive any defunct oxygen gas plants and to leverage Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) oxygen gas generation capacity at their Yelahanka, Raichur and Bidar plants. "Besides, there are talks going on to procure a compressor for bottling of oxygen in KPCL's Raichur plant as well," he added. Replying to a question, the minister claimed that efforts were on to identify and convert nitrogen PSA plants to produce oxygen. "One such effort in Raichur, with a capacity of 500 cubic meters per hour, is in the advanced stages of revival and will start operation after five weeks," he said.
Shettar also added that oxygen gas plant within the Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISL), a unit of Steel Authority of India Limited in Bhadravati in Shivamogga district, presently has the capacity to fill 150-190 oxygen cylinder and the state government is in process of increasing the capacity of the plant by 200 cylinders soon.