The first oxygen express train sent by the Union government to Kerala reached Kochi’s International Container Transhipment Terminal at Vallarpadam. A total of 118 metric tonnes of medical oxygen was delivered at around 3.30 am on Sunday, May 16. The load which was being sent to Delhi from the Tata Steel plant at Kalinganagar in Odisha, was rerouted to Kochi and released to Kerala by the Union government after the requirement in Delhi dipped.
The oxygen was transported in special container tanks that were reportedly imported. The oxygen will be loaded in tanker lorries and dispatched to the various districts in the state under the supervision of the state's fire force. The oxygen control room functioning at the capital Thiruvananthapuram will monitor the movement of the tankers to the districts. The arrival of oxygen will alleviate the state's oxygen shortage situation.
On May 13, Chief Minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to increase oxygen allocation for Kerala. In his letter to the Prime Minister, written ahead of cyclone Tauktae’s formation, Pinarayi Vijayan warned that the cyclonic storm could disrupt oxygen distribution and hence needed urgent intervention.
Kerala’s oxygen allocation by the Union government had been 223 tonnes per day, it has now been increased to 358 tonnes per day. However, Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday had written that the total daily oxygen requirement for medical purposes in Kerala could rapidly rise to 423.60 tonnes within the next three days.
Watch video of the oxygen express:
Last week, hospitals in Kerala’s northernmost Kasaragod district had faced acute oxygen shortage and many patients had to be shifted to hospitals in other districts.
The state government has started oxygen war rooms in all districts, to cater to the oxygen requirement of hospitals. The oxygen war rooms are attached to COVID-19 control rooms and function under the Kerala Disaster Management Authority.