TN to take up oxygen diversion issue with Centre: Health Secy

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Chennai, Apr 21 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday said it would take up with the Centre, diversion of about 45 metric tonnes of medical oxygen from a city plant to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, while asserting that the state had adequate stocks of oxygen.

Wondering what the need was for the central government to divert the oxygen manufactured by a supplier at nearby Sriperumbudur, Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said that even during the pandemic times, the state has been supplying oxygen to others.

'Even now the state is providing oxygen to its neighboring states who are in deficit for medical oxygen. We have not imposed any restrictions,' he told PTI.

'The availability situation is currently adequate, but this diversion has been done by the Government of India.

While Tamil Nadu can always supply to others, this mandatory diversion should not create problems in the future and we are taking up the issue to ensure that our situation is comfortable in the future too,' he added.

Tamil Nadu's liquid medical oxygen manufacturing capacity is around 400 metric tonnes a day and the state has a storage capacity of around 1,200 tonnes.

Currently, the daily medical consumption is around 240 tonnes per day, the health secretary said and asserted that the state is in a comfortable position now.

The private manufacturer in the city, who has a pan India presence, contributes to about 50 per cent of the medical oxygen market in India, sources said and added that there is no supply-side bottleneck in the state.

With states like Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat, those with high daily COVID-19 cases, reporting an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders, the centre had recently clarified that India had a production capacity of 7,127 MT of oxygen per day.

Further, from April 19,Indian Railways began transporting Liquid Medical Oxygen and Oxygen Cylinders across the country through green corridors.

Meanwhile, the opposition DMK and AMMK slammed the diversion of oxygen by the Centre.

DMK President M K Stalin claimed 'shortage' of oxygen and wondered why it was diverted during such a situation and expressed concern.

While those in the neighbouring states 'are our brothers,' the Centre should have checked the situation in Tamil Nadu with the Chief Secretary or the government and charged it with not taking the states seriously.

In a statement, he asked why the Centre was reportedly seeking to import oxygen while earlier maintaining that there was sufficient stock and charged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 'touted as an expert administrator', with 'failing' to tackle the covid crisis.

AMMK founder T T V Dhinakaran, in a tweet, condemned the Centre diverting oxygen from Tamil Nadu 'without consulting' the state administration and said 'this is not acceptable at any cost.' PTI JSP SA APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR