Updated: May 30, 2021 1:57:24 am
The Centre Saturday reconstituted the six existing Empowered Groups of Officers set up to monitor and manage the government’s response to Covid-19 into 10 groups, including separate panels responsible for oxygen management and vaccination.
According to an order issued by the Union Home Secretary, the 10 EGs will be headed by secretary-level bureaucrats from various ministries, Niti Aayog members and other officials. The first EG for emergency management plan and strategy is headed by Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul with 10 other officials aiding him.
The EG for emergency response capabilities such as hospital beds and ventilators is headed by Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Rajesh Bhushan. The EG for augmenting human resources is led by Labour Secretary Apurva Chandra. The EG on oxygen is headed by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Giridhar Aramane as convenor and secretaries of ministries of steel and urban development as members, among others.
The EG on vaccination is headed by Dr VK Paul with Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, Finance Secretary TV Somanathan, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan and Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, among others, as members. The EG on testing is led by DG ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava while the EG on partnership to deal with NGOs and private sector is headed by Niti Aayog member Amitabh Kant with Aviation Secretary P S Kharola as member.
The EG on information, communication and public engagement is headed by I&B Secretary Amit Khare with MeITY Secretary Ajay Sawhney as member. The EG on economic and welfare measures is headed by Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Ajay Seth, while the EG on pandemic response and coordination is led by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.
The government had first set up 11 EGs following the announcement of a nationwide lockdown in March last year to manage the Covid situation in the country. This was whittled down to six EGs later through amendments that were carried out in September last year. Since then, amendments to EGs have been carried out in October last year and April and May this year.
“The situation has been reviewed and a need has been felt to reconstitute the six Empowered Groups into 10 Groups in order to cater to the current need of Covid-19 management… Convener of the respective Empowered Group, can co-opt any other officer in his Group,” Bhalla’s order said on Saturday.
The six EGs that existed earlier included those on “medical infrastructure and Covid management plan”, “ensuring availability of essential medical equipment and augmenting human resources”, “Coordinating with private sector, NGOs and international organisations for response-related activities”, “economic and welfare measures”, “information, communication, public awareness, public grievances and data management”, and “strategic issues relating to Covid management and facilitating supply chain and logistics management”.
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