Nine empty oxygen tankers from Telangana were airlifted to Odisha on Friday to bring back oxygen faster to the state for supply to hospitals treating Covid patients.

Two C-17 planes of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were used to airlift the tankers from Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad to liquid oxygen plants in Odisha

Health Minister E. Rajender and Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar supervised the airlifting operation at the airport.

The minister said the tankers will return by road to bring 150 tonnes of oxygen to the state by April 27. He claimed that this is the first instance in the country where war planes were used to airlift oxygen tankers.

Rajender said the airlifting of the tankers to Angul and Rourkela steel plants in Odisha will save three days in transportation. He said the Telangana government was ready to spend any amount of money to save people’s lives.

The minister said the government has installed liquid oxygen tanks in 22 government hospitals. This move will ensure that there is no shortage of oxygen at government hospitals.

The C17 aircraft deployed for airlifting were commanded by Wing Commander Chaitanya and Wing Commander Nijhawan.

Industry Minister K.T. Rama Rao took to Twitter to compliment the Health Minister and Chief Secretary for supervising the airlifting of oxygen tankers. He said this would save three days and many valuable lives.

This came a day after the Health Minister criticised the Centre for allocating oxygen to the state from Odisha as the tankers will have to cover a distance of over 1,300 km. He wanted the Centre to provide oxygen from manufacturing units in neighbouring states.

Rajender had said that the Centre would be responsible for any shortage of oxygen in the state.

He said though oxygen allocation to Telangana is 384 tonnes per day, the state is getting only 260-270 tonnes.

He, however, said there were no deaths of Covid patients in the state due to lack of oxygen as the authorities were effectively tackling the situation.