Kerala floods: As forces stepped up rescue ops, IOC kept ATF supply going

People are airlifted by the Indian Navy soldiers during a rescue operation at a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala | Photo: Reuters
The floods that have devastated Kerala have also put Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) on the war-footing. The state-owned oil and gas company has stepped up its supply of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to the Thiruvananthapuram Airport multifold, from a normal rate of 180 kilolitres (KL) a day, in order to support the Army, defence aircraft and helicopters. 

From the evening of August 15, the Indian Oil Trivandrum aviation team has been refuelling and handling diverted civil flights, rescue helicopters of the Indian Air Force, defence aircraft and choppers. Refuelling has been happening on a war-footing and fuel requirements have increased three-fold, from a normal rate of 180 KL per day to 550 KL per day.

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"When the demand started surging up, we had to arrange additional supplies to Trivandrum AFS through tank trucks from Sankari, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. With these, we were able to meet the demands of both rescue operations of defence services and civil aviation operations at Trivandrum Airport," said G Krishnakumar, GM I/C Aviation, Indian Oil Southern Region.  

"The mandate is that we have to supply adequate fuel to all the operations of the defence forces wherever they take place. With rescue operations intensifying by August 17, we made arrangements to carry the fuel even from Hyderabad... more than 1,000 kilometres," said Sabitha Natraj, general manager (corporate communications) south zone, IOCL. In a place where an average of five to 10 flights were refuelled under normal circumstances, 80-90 flights were refuelled per day from August 17. 

All the fuel requirements of defence aircraft, like IL-76, Hercules C-130, and C-17, and rescue choppers, like MI–17/8, Chethak, and Sea King, were met by Indian Oil. 

At the Cochin Naval Base Airport, the Indian Oil Cochin AFS team undertook 272 refuellings of rescue aircraft and choppers in a span of three days, which is an almost 10-fold increase from usual operations. 

The Indian Oil Calicut AFS witnessed increased ATF demand and was fed from Hyderabad, Goa, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mangalore.   

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