Telangana sent two oxygen tankers in a C17 jet to Odisha on Friday to pick up Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) to meet the crisis in the state. This is the first set of the nine tankers planned to airlift LMO from the neighbouring state. The process is expected to be completed by April 27, with 150 metric tonnes of LMO.
LMO will be loaded from the Rourkela Steel Plant in Odisha and returned to Telangana by road, Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender said, adding that this will save three days time. Telangana has liquid oxygen tanks in 22 government hospitals and the minister said that the decision to airlift LMO was taken as a precautionary measure and not because there is a shortage in any of the government hospitals.
On the orders of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, along with IAS officers Sunil Sharma, Rizvi, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Preeti Meena, oversaw the arrangements for sending the tankers by air from the Begumpet Airport. Wing Commander Chaitanya and Nirjawan from the Indian Air Force are coordinating with state government officials.
According to reports, Eatala Rajender had alerted about the possibility of the state running out of oxygen supplies soon if the current rush continued and pointed out that instead of allocating oxygen supplies from nearest sources like the steel plants at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Bellary in Karnataka, the Union government had allocated Rourkela steel plant in Odisha. He also said that since Rourkela is around 1700 kms away from Telangana, it would take the tankers seven days to collect LMO and return.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, several hospitals have publicly announced that they have run out of oxygen supplies. After social media platforms were flooded with cries for help from the patients and their kin, the Union government finally started mapping existing oxygen resources and is in the process of allocating the surplus resources of some states to other states, where shortage has been reported.