Bengaluru, May 4: A startling fact that emerged out of the Chamarajanagar tragedy is the absence of an oxygen bottling plant in several districts. As many as nine districts of Karnataka - Gadag, Chikkaballapur, Chitradurga, Bidar, Yadgir, Chamarajanagar, Kodagu, Mandya and Udupi rely on neighbouring districts for oxygen in the absence of a dedicated plant.
This increased dependency on neighbouring districts has led to uncertainty in supply as logistical issues like distance, time, condition of oxygen tankers and breakdowns have affected the timely delivery of oxygen.
Chitradurga, for example, relies on oxygen supply on Davangere. Chitradurga DHO Dr Palaksha C L, said, "We have a storage capacity of 6,200 litres at the district hospital. Even then we need oxygen refilling every alternate day from Southern Gases in Davangere. We've got 60 jumbo cylinders and another 90 donated by NGOs."
Surprisingly, Yadgir district hospital gets 2,500 litres of oxygen all the way from Chennai. The oxygen is transported from Praxair company in Chennai to Ballari and then to Yadgir, said district health officer Dr Indumati Kamshetty. "The entire district needs 5,000 litres per day. While private hospitals get it from the Kalaburagi district, we get it twice a week from Chennai via Ballari. We do not have the luxury of waiting till some hours of oxygen is left so we get a refill when there's a buffer stock of two to three days as it takes days to travel and reach here," she said.
Mandya District Health Officer Dr Manche Gowda said they rely on Mysuru for the supply. While Mandya Medical College has a 13 kilolitres capacity, Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medical Sciences has another 13 kilolitres, Sanjo Hospital has two kilolitres storage. "We get a refill three to four times a day if there's a requirement. While the government hospitals alone require 350 jumbo cylinders, we need 500 per day," Gowda said.
Karnataka's oxygen allocation has been increased from 802 metric tonnes per day to 865 metric tonnes per day. But the state requires 1,471 tonnes of oxygen. A total of 675 metric tonnes of oxygen out of 815 produced in the state go to the consumers in the state, the rest 140 tonnes are sent to other states. Karnataka also procures 130 tonnes from other states.