Nine empty oxygen cylinders were airlifted to Odisha from Hyderabad by Indian Air Force with the help of Telangana Government for the procurement of liquid oxygen.
The plants at Angul and Rourkela are about 1200 km away from Hyderabad and the decision to airlift oxygen tankers would not only save time but also help resolve to a large extent the rising shortage of medical oxygen for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The tankers will return by road and will bring the state 150 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen by April 27.
On Friday, Health minister Eatala Rajender along with the Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and other officials oversaw the operation at the old airport at Begumpet in Hyderabad. According to a statement from the minister’s office, two C17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force were deployed for the purpose.
It would have taken three days to transport empty oxygen tankers from Hyderabad to Odisha by road. “With the airlifting of tankers, the travel time is reduced by three days and would also go a long way in seeing that the shortage of oxygen for Covid 19 patients is at least overcome for a few days,” the statement said, adding that liquid oxygen tanks have been set up in 22 government hospitals.
A day ago, the minister had assured that there was no shortage of oxygen in the state and informed that a team of experts comprising 10 IAS officers led by the Chief Secretary, Industries minister KT Rama Rao and himself would monitor the supply of oxygen to hospitals. This was in the backdrop of information about black marketing and delay in supply from some distribution centres coming to the notice of the department.
Currently, Telangana has a supply of around 270 metric tonnes of oxygen per day against its actual requirement of 384 metric tonnes a day. The health minister on Thursday had said that the state was allocated 40 tonnes from Bellary in Karnataka, 84 tonnes from Odisha, and 55 tonnes from Tamil Nadu. He also sought union minister Harsh Vardhan’s intervention alleging that Tamil Nadu has refused to send oxygen to Telangana.
Meanwhile, minister KT Rama Rao tested positive for COVID-19. Tweeting the same on Friday morning, he said he was isolated at home with mild symptoms of the disease. “Those of you who have met me the last few days, kindly follow the covid protocol, get tested & take care,” he said. Earlier on Sunday, Rama Rao’s father and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had tested positive for the disease. He is being monitored by a team of doctors at his farmhouse in Erravali in Siddipet district.