Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has informed the Prime Minister that the state is no longer in a position to supply oxygen to other states as the demand within the state has increased substantially in view of the rapid rise in the state’s infection rate.
The state currently has over 4 lakh active cases and this might go up to 6 lakh within a fortnight, Vijayan pointed out.
The letter was sent even as some hospitals, particularly in districts such as Kasargod, reported that their oxygen supply was barely enough to last a couple of hours only. Kasargod depends on oxygen supplies from neighbouring Mangaluru in Karnataka as the district does not have a plant to produce the vital commodity.
Hospitals in the district depend on private suppliers from Karnataka as well as supplies from a plant in the neighbouring Kannur district. The requirement is estimated to be 160 cylinders per day, but often there is a shortfall in supply.
The chief minister told the Prime Minister that the state currently produces 219 tonnes of oxygen per day, the entire quantity of which is required by the state itself. The estimated spike in infection would necessitate 450 tonnes by the middle of this month, he added.
Vijayan requested the Prime Minister to arrange additional oxygen supplies from steel plants to meet the shortfall.
The state had built up a buffer stock of 450 tonnes, but in view of the demand from other states in the wake of their requirements going up, the state government allowed drawing from the buffer, with the result that the oxygen situation within the state is now under pressure.
The buffer stock itself has come down to 86 metric tonnes, the chief minister pointed out.
Vijayan said the state has been providing 40 tonnes to Tamil Nadu as per the decision of the Central Committee of Oxygen Allocation. In view of the increased demand, the state won’t be able to continue this in the coming days, he said.
Vijayan also sought the allocation of more cryogenic tankers from the Centre for transporting liquid oxygen.
The Centre has sanctioned three more oxygen plants to be established in Kerala, but this will not be ready in time for the expected spike in infection rate in the next fortnight. Currently, the main oxygen plant in the state is located in Palakkad district.