Even as the Centre has increased oxygen allocation to Kerala from 223 metric tonnes (MT) to 358 MT, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today sought that the state's daily quota be hiked to 450 MT as the Covid surge is pushing up demand.
He has also requested the Centre to rush 300 MT of oxygen to the state in view of an approaching storm that could disrupt electricity supply to oxygen plants and filling stations.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Vijayan has stated that Kerala is witnessing a sharp spike in Covid cases and the number of patients requiring critical care, including oxygen support, has gone up significantly.
"The current oxygen generation capacity in Kerala is 212.34 Metric Tonnes (MT) per day. Based on scientific projections, the total daily requirement for medical purposes in Kerala could rapidly rise to 423.60 MT within the next three days," the Chief Minister wrote.
Citing the India Meteorological Department's forecast of a cyclonic storm that can lead to heavy rain and winds in parts of Kerala over the next couple of days, Mr Vijayan added, "It is anticipated that there may be disruptions in electricity supply to oxygen generation plants and filling stations. There can also be disruptions in road transport which would impede timely oxygen supply necessary to save precious lives."
"As the State of Kerala will not be able to manage the oxygen demand without assistance from the Government of India, it is requested that Kerala's daily oxygen allocation may be immediately enhanced to 450 MT," the Chief Minister wrote.
"It is also requested that at least 300 MT oxygen may be immediately rushed to Kerala from neighbouring storage points to augment the storage in hospitals in the wake of the impending cyclonic storm," he added.
The Centre's move to increase the daily oxygen allocation to Kerala came days after the Chief Minister's letters to the Prime Minister, and requests by the Chief Secretary and Health Secretary to their central counterparts, stating that Kerala cannot spare any more oxygen as it had already supplied the buffer stock to neighbouring states and now needs oxygen to tackle the Covid situation.
Following the increase in allocation, starting today, the state government will use the oxygen produced and stored at the Inox Plant in Palakkad solely for managing the pandemic situation within Kerala.
Kerala is among the states worst affected by the devastating second wave of Covid infections in the country. The state on Thursday recorded 39,955 fresh cases and 97 deaths over the past 24 hours. While the total death count in the state reached 6,150, the number of active cases stands at 4,38,913.