Kerala Chief Minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan has informed the Union government that it would no longer be possible for it to supply oxygen to Tamil Nadu as its buffer stock is nearly over. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 10, Pinarayi has sought that the Union government allocate the entire oxygen produced in the state to Kerala. He also sought that the Union government supplement oxygen supply from steel plants.
"We have been working to optimise oxygen supply by ensuring that there are no leakages or excessive use in the hospitals. The main oxygen production unit in the state is at Inox, Kanjikode Palakkad. It has a capacity of 150 metric tonnes (MT). Along with the capacity of smaller units, there is the generation of 219 MT of oxygen per day," the letter reads
Pinarayi points out in his letter that the state had ensured buffer stock of 450 MT and was managing its demand without putting additional pressure on the national grid. However, with Kerala supplying oxygen to neighbouring states, its buffer stock had reduced to 86 MT.
Noting that the state presently has 4,02,650 active COVID-19 cases, Pinarayi says this is projected to increase to 6,00,000 cases by May 15. â€śThe rising number of patients needing hospitalisation will necessitate around 450 MT oxygen by May 15, 2021,â€ť he states. While Kerala will supply 40 MT of oxygen to Tamil Nadu until May 10, the letter goes on to say that after this it will be â€śpractically impossible to allow oxygen to be taken outside the state considering the present situation.â€ť
â€śAs Kerala is geographically located far away from main steel plants, transferring oxygen within a short time is very difficult and therefore I request that the entire oxygen produced in the state ie 219 MT may be allocated to the state and this may be supplemented by an allocation from steel plants, " states the letter.
Pinarayi also requested the Union government to procure cryo tankers (used for the storage and transport of liquid gases), stating that the supply of liquid medical oxygen can be pooled by running Oxygen Express trains for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Kerala had in April supplied medical oxygen tankers to Goa, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, to meet the demands of their hospitals which are fast filling up with COVID-19 patients.
Kerala has also been witnessing a huge surge in the COVID-19 caseload in the second wave of the pandemic. The state on Monday recorded 27,487 cases while the number of deaths reported was 65.