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Centre says Armed Forces stretched, turns down Delhi plea

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had earlier written to Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to lend services of the Armed Forces to the state to help it set up, operationalise and run Covid health facilities with about 10,000 oxygen and 1,000 ICU beds.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
May 6, 2021 1:11:30 am
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, farmers, Ram temple, Bharatiya Janata Party, face-off with China in Ladakh, Uttar Pradesh BJP executive committee, BJP meet, india news, indian expressDefence Minister Rajnath Singh. (File)

The centre on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the Ministry of Defence has decided against bringing the Army to set up field hospitals in the national capital as the resources of the Armed Forces are stretched across the country in these times and they are providing “as much as help possible” without compromising their operational readiness.

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had earlier written to Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to lend services of the Armed Forces to the state to help it set up, operationalise and run Covid health facilities with about 10,000 oxygen and 1,000 ICU beds.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma told the court on Wednesday that the Army, Air Force and the Navy are on the job and have been helping. He added that requests have been received from many state governments to set up similar facilities.

“Since last year when Covid-19 broke out, the Ministry of Defence has not only ensured care and protection of its 1.3 crore serving personnel, ex-servicemen and dependents but also opened up Covid hospitals for taking care of the civil population. The Armed Forces have also provided medical officers and paramedic staff and nurses for DRDO-constructed Covid hospitals in Delhi, which is 500 beds, and nearly 2,500 beds in cities all over countries,” the court was told.

Sharma also told the court that the forces are running three major hospitals in Delhi, with two of them dedicated to Covid alone. Around 8,791 patients have been treated at Base Hospital and 950 at the DRDO facility, he said. The court was also told that efforts are underway to add another 395 beds at Base Hospital by May 30.

However, the central government added that the assistance of the Armed Forces can be provided in transporting oxygen cylinders, airlifting empty oxygen containers and transporting filled oxygen containers from industrial units.

The Air Force has already helped Delhi in transportation of containers, the court was told. A total of 29 sorties have been made till date, out of which 16 were loaded, and 18 tankers with 417 MT capacity have been airlifted for Delhi, Sharma told the court.

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