A major medical oxygen supplier to other states, Kerala is now left with only 86 metric tonne of buffer stock and the state is not in a position to spare it further, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Chief Minister has requested the Centre to allocate more cryogenic tankers, which can be pooled in by running Oxygen Express trains for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala for transferring additional quantities of medical oxygen.
The CM said Kerala would supply 40 metric tonne of oxygen to Tamil Nadu till May 10, but not beyond it. “After this, it will be practically impossible to allow oxygen to be taken out of the state, given the situation we are in,” Vijayan wrote to the PM.
Strict lockdown has been enforced in Kerala till May 16. Only essential services and emergency movement have been allowed. The test positivity rate in the state is at 28.88 per cent and only 17.38 per cent of people have been vaccinated.
Vijayan said that the state has 4.02 lakh active cases, and it is feared the number could jump to 6 lakh by May 15. The state will then need 450 metric tonne of oxygen.
The main oxygen-producing unit of the state is located at Kanjikode in Palakkad. Its total production capacity is 150 metric tonne and along with other smaller units, the state is producing 219 metric tonne of oxygen each day, Vijayan wrote.
As the state is far from the main steel plants, the transfer of oxygen is difficult. “I request that the entire oxygen produced in the state (219 MT) may be allocated to Kerala”. This, he said, could be supplemented by the allocation from steel plants.