Covid in India: How Kerala escaped an oxygen crisis

Kerala learned from last year's Corona Atimari. So while most of the states have become dependent on the central government's intervention to get...

Friday, April 23, 2021

/ by Avishek Bera


The News Cover: Kerala learned from last year's Corona Atimari. So while most of the states have become dependent on the central government's intervention to get oxygen crisis, Kerala is self-sufficient. This is because in April last year, Kerala's medical oxygen production was 99.39 metric tons, but this year it has increased to 219 metric tons.

Last year, like the rest of the country, the first wave of Corona hit Kerala. And then the Kerala government realized that if such a crisis arose again in the future, there could be a crisis of oxygen used in medical field. Accordingly, the southern state began to plan to increase the production and storage of medical oxygen. Today, when several large states of the country are lost in the oxygen crisis, many are relieved. Last year, Kerala produced 50 liters of oxygen per minute. At present it has increased to 1250 liters per minute. This has been made possible by the plans of the Kerala Health Department and the central agency PESO, which has been monitoring the oxygen supply situation in the country since March 23 last year.

R Benugopal, Deputy Chief Controller, Peso, said the benefits were due to precise planning and appropriate action. In his words, 'It is possible to get such remarkable results only through the joint efforts of the central government agency and the state government. So that patients' oxygen needs can be met. Both sides have been trying to find a way to increase oxygen production. Up to 2 metric tons of oxygen was obtained from BPCL's Kochi refinery when the demand for oxygen was at its peak. This time too they are ready to supply free oxygen to all medical colleges in Kerala. Similarly, the Inox plant at Palakkad has the capacity to produce 149 metric tons of oxygen. Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited has been producing oxygen since last November. Kerala also gets 8 metric tons of oxygen from there.

State Chief Minister Pinarayi Bijayan said, “We have been able to significantly enhance the medical infrastructure in Kerala. At the moment, the demand for oxygen in our state is 64.25 metric tons. And we are producing 219.22 metric tons of oxygen. About 50 per cent of the total ICU beds for Kovid and general patients in all government hospitals are still empty. The Kerala administration has calculated the average daily oxygen demand in the state since last June. This has been calculated per hospital. It is estimated that 103.51 metric tons of oxygen will be required in the state till April 30. Kerala has much more oxygen stored than that.

There are also regular meetings between PESO, Kerala Medical Services Corporation, various hospitals and organizations associated with oxygen supply. At present, 32 hospitals in Kerala have the infrastructure to store 2 to 30 metric tons of oxygen together. Oxygen can also be obtained from Cochin Shipyard in case of emergency. 20 metric tons of oxygen is also produced there.

In the last two or three days, the demand for oxygen has increased a bit, so Kerala has not been a problem. On the contrary, oxygen is being supplied to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka from there. Goa Health Minister Biswajit Rane has thanked Kerala Health Minister KK Shailja for getting 20,000 liters of oxygen from Kerala. As a result, when Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh faced an oxygen crisis, Kerala showed the way.

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