Comparing the tragic oxygen shortages in Delhi and some other states with Kerala’s surplus oxygen status, P. SREEKUMARAN explains how the southern Indian state began working to increase its oxygen production early last year, and why it is now not only able to meet its own medical oxygen needs , but also to provide oxygen to other states in need.

KERALA has always led forward, setting an example for other states to follow. God’s own country now has a chance to rush to the rescue of Delhi, which is breathless due to a severe shortage of oxygen.

As many as 50 COVID-19 patients have recently died in the nation’s capital due to lack of oxygen in hospitals. Last week, at least 25 of these patients deceased at Jaipur Golden Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital seen the deaths of 25 other such patients. In addition, six patients lost their life in a private hospital in Amritsar, Punjab.

The situation is so dire that a distraught Delhi Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal has sent an SOS to other states to assist Delhi by urgently providing oxygen supplies.

The Delhi High Court, intervening in the case, drawn the governments of the Union and Delhi for their failure to ensure an adequate supply of oxygen to hospitals. The tribunal warned that anyone who tried to obstruct the oxygen supply to hospitals would be hanged. He request the Center when the 480 metric tons of oxygen per day allocated to Delhi would see the light of day.

Also read: SC wants answers from Center on oxygen supply, vaccinations and health infrastructure

Kerala, which is a state of excess oxygen, must rise to the occasion and bail out Delhi immediately. The state must play the savior because it is indeed in a position to do so.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should give the green signal for a “rescue mission” without, needless to say, compromising on Kerala’s own demands.

Kerala is very unlikely to face the kind of shortage that some northern Indian states such as Delhi and Uttar Pradesh are currently facing, given the large stock of oxygen available to it.

Incidentally, Kerala has already helped Goa in to rush 20,000 liters of liquid oxygen for COVID patients in this condition recently. Kerala’s benevolent gesture saw Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane taken to Twitter to thank his Kerala counterpart, KK Shailaja, writing that the people of his state “are grateful for your contribution to our fight against Covid 19.”

How did Kerala increase its oxygen production?

It is worth taking a closer look at how Kerala has managed to achieve the comfortable position it enjoys with regard to excess oxygen supply. It’s not like Rome was built in a day. It was the product of advanced planning and the execution of this plan with clinical efficiency. The main contributors to this saga of success have been the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) and the Kerala Department of Health. The monitoring of the needs of potential patients and the determination of the optimal supply scenario was launched in March of last year.

Today Kerala produces 204.75 tonnes of medical oxygen per day. Up to 51.45 tonnes per day are used for COVID cases; non-COVID care units represent an additional 47.16 tonnes per day. In total, the state’s daily oxygen requirement is 98.61 tonnes per day. Last year, this demand was also around 100 tonnes per day.

Most of Kerala oxygen production comes from its various public sector units (UPE) of the State and the Union. Some of these main producers are: Inox Air Products, Kanjikode (149 tonnes per day), Cochin Shipyard (5.45 tonnes per day), Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. (KMML), Chavara (6 tonnes per day) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd., Kochi (0.322 tons per day.

In addition, up to 11 Air Separation Units (ASUs) represent an additional 44 tonnes per day. These ASUs are based in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Thrissur and Ernakulam.

Inox also supplies medical oxygen to hospitals in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Kerala is able to increase its production of medical oxygen to 250 tons per day, if needed. Another ASU factory commissioned in Palakkad will start operating in a month. The plant has the capacity to produce 4 tonnes of medical oxygen per day. In addition, there are 23 oxygen filling stations, too much.

Also read: As Union government fails, Kerala shows how to fight pandemics and protect citizens’ health

Plans to further increase oxygen production

The state may be called upon to increase production in the coming days as there are signs of a further increase in daily COVID cases across the country. The PESO has appointed nodal agents in all states to monitor the production, storage and distribution of oxygen. There are also nodal officers assigned to the Department of Health.

KMML, which was only implemented in October last year, already produces 900 tonnes of medical oxygen per month. Its production can still be increased to 210 tons per month. At present, not all of its factories are operating at full capacity.

In another important development, Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) contributed to the setting establishment of centralized oxygen distribution facilities in five public hospitals in Ernakulam. The system facilitates direct oxygen delivery through well-mounted outlets near the patient bed. The system has been installed in the Taluk Government Hospitals of Fort Kochi, Palluruthy and Tripunithara, the Aluva District Hospital and the Muvattupuzha General Hospital. These facilities will be of great help in dealing with COVID cases, a statement released by CSL said.

Also read: UP: “Suppliers charging arbitrary amounts for oxygen; Rs 50,000 a cylinder, Rs 4,000 for refill

Treating the availability of medical oxygen as a human right: Cardinal Alencherry

Meanwhile, Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and chairman of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), has urged the Union and state governments to consider the availability of medical oxygen as a basic human right.

All necessary steps must be taken to make oxygen available to people who are breathless in various hospitals and health care centers across the country, he said. “We usually talk about food, clothing and shelter as the basic human needs that a government should provide for its people. Now, in the wake of COVID-19, people’s lives are in extreme danger and there is a clamor for medical oxygen to survive. It is the government’s imperative duty to make medical oxygen available to all hospitals and health care centers across India, ”the cardinal said.

In addition, the government, he said, should not view medical oxygen as a marketable commodity to be left to commercial agencies for profit. “At a time when many parts of the country are facing an oxygen crisis, we hope that the government will seize the opportunity to get rid of all the bottlenecks – political or centered on transport – and to propose to use all its resources, including charter flights. , to bring medical oxygen from abroad so that it can be made available to states in need, ”he said.

The cardinal appreciated the measures already taken by the Union and state governments to avoid the disastrous effects of the pandemic, adding that however, much remains to be done. (IPA Service)

The article was originally published in The booklet.