May 7, 2021 7:36:29 am
Amid several demands and suggestions to bring in the armed forces to not just handle logistics, but to also set-up warlike field hospitals to combat the ongoing second wave of the Covid-19 cases across the country, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday wrote a blog post about his ministry’s response, and that of the armed forces, in “fighting the invisible enemy”, calling it a “once in a century crisis”.
“Sensing the emergency situation, the whole Government machinery immediately swung into action by mobilizing all possible resources. Along with the efforts put together by the scientific community, health professionals, civil administration, the Armed Forces too have pitched in this battle against an invisible yet deadly enemy.”
In his post, Singh wrote that the Indian Army, Air Force, Navy, and other organisations of the Ministry of Defence like DG AFMS, DRDO, OFB, DPSU, NCC, Cantonments Boards, etc “are engaged to help mitigate the sufferings of the people. Mobilisation of additional health professionals, setting up of new COVID facilities, deployment of IAF transport aircraft and IN Ships to provide logistic support to facilitate the supply of oxygen from friendly foreign countries and within the country and setting up of new oxygen plants are some of the ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Defence”.
He recounted the many steps taken in the last few weeks in aiding the effort. Foremost, he said, “I have directed the Armed Forces to extend all possible assistance to the civil administration to tide over the crisis” as “people have great faith and trust in the capabilities of the Armed Forces”.
Emergency Financial Powers have granted to the armed forces for the formation commanders to set up medical facilities in addition to the emergency financial powers delegated to Director General Medical Services (Army/Navy/Air Force) and other officers.
Also, nearly 750 beds in various Military Hospitals have been set aside for civilian use while the AFMS also dedicated 19 hospitals, over 4,000 beds and 585 ICU units across the country, Singh said.
DRDO, he mentioned, has set up 500-bed facilities in New Delhi and Lucknow, a 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad and converted ESIC Hospital in Patna to Covid-19 hospital with 500 beds. It is working to establish similar hospitals in Muzaffarpur and Varanasi.
Other steps include granting extension to the Short Service Commissioned Doctors of AFMS till December 31, redeploying recently retired medical officers, 100 beds at Lucknow and Prayagraj provided by the Army, and many more in other areas, and keeping 200 drivers on standby for driving oxygen transporters to various parts of the country.
The Air Force has carried out 50 sorties, airlifting 61 oxygen containers of 1,142 MT capacity from abroad, and 344 sorties, airlifting 230 containers of 4,527 MT capacity domestically till May 5. Navy too, he said, has deployed nine warships for the purpose of transporting oxygen-filled containers and first consignment reached Mangalore on May 5. The Indian Army has repaired two civil oxygen plants at Agra to facilitate the resumption of supply of up to 1,800 cylinders per day.
Also, 23 mobile oxygen generating plants are being brought from Germany and a tender for another 23 big sized plants has also been floated.
Singh said that the armed forces and various establishments of his ministry “are not just providing support to the civil administration/state governments in fighting the current situation but are also playing a pivotal role in conducting the vaccination drive launched by the government across the country”.
“All the efforts and initiatives by the Armed Forces and various organizations of MoD, some of which enumerated above, are being done without compromising the objective of defending the nation from any external threat,” Singh wrote.
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