Defence Minister asks armed forces to help states in dealing with pandemic
With Covid-19 situation deteriorating, the government has leaned on armed forces to handle the second wave of the pandemic
As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has asked the Army to extend assistance to state administrations to deal with the pandemic, including by offering help in creation of additional capacities to treat COVID-19 patients.
In a virtual meeting held to review the preparedness of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces to deal with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, Singh discussed ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 among the Armed Forces personnel and the officers/staff working in the Ministry of Defence.
He focused on COVID appropriate behavior at the workplace, stressing on the need to strictly follow all the Covid protocols such as wearing masks at all times and maintaining physical distancing.
The meeting was attended by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surg Vice Admiral Rajat Datta, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation G Satheesh Reddy and other senior civil and military officers attended the meeting via video conferencing.
During the meeting, the defence minister was briefed about the measures taken byAFMS, DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs),Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and other organisations of Ministry of Defence such as National Cadet Corps (NCC) in providing aid to the civil administration in this hour of crisis.
He urged the DPSUs, OFB and DRDOto work on war footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to civil administration/state governments at the earliest. He also called upon the Armed Forces to be in close contact with the state governments and be ready to provide any required assistance.
The defence minister also delegated the emergency powers of procurement so that critical needs are procured.
He was informed by the DRDO Chairman that a COVID-19 facility, developed by DRDO, has again been made functional in New Delhi and efforts are being made to soon increase the number of beds from 250 to 500.
Reddy informed the meeting that the ESIC Hospital, which was converted to Covid hospital in Patna, has started functioning with 500 beds. He informed that work is on war footing to set up a 450-bed hospital in Lucknow, 750-bed hospital in Varanasi and 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad.
Singh was also informed that based on the On-Board Oxygen Generation Technology developed for LCA Tejas, a 1000 litre/minute capacity oxygen generation plants technology has been given to the industry and the Uttar Pradesh government has placed order of five such plants with the industry.
Reddy informed the Raksha Mantri that more plants can be supplied by the industry to cater to the hospital requirements. He further said SpO2 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) based supplemental oxygen delivery system developed for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas can be used for covid patients as their conditions become similar. The product will be available soon in the market from the industry as per technology provided by DRDO.