April 25, 2021 5:15:22 am
With the Covid-19 situation across the country worsening, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a review meeting with the armed forces, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and senior officials of the ministry on Saturday and “directed them to extend all possible assistance to the civil administration”.
The meeting — Singh’s second this week — took place even as the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been roped in to transport necessary medical equipment across the country and bringing oxygen containers from Singapore. The Navy has been kept on standby, and the other forces are creating new facilities in different districts for Covid-19 patients, the ministry stated.
In a statement, the Defence Ministry said that Singh reviewed efforts of the ministry and the three forces in combatting the crisis. He “directed the armed forces and various other establishments of the Ministry of Defence to extend all possible assistance to the civilian administration to tide over the present situation”, the statement said.
Singh expressed “satisfaction” on assistance being provided by the IAF in moving oxygen tankers and plants from abroad and in the country”, the ministry stated. Singh was informed that “one C-17 IAF transport plane left for Singapore” on Saturday morning and was to return in the evening with “four containers of cryogenic oxygen tanks”, it stated.
The ministry statement noted that a C-17 transported two empty container trucks for liquid oxygen from Pune to Jamnagar, while another transported two empty oxygen containers from Jodhpur to Jamnagar. A Chinook helicopter airlifted medical equipment for Covid tests from Jammu to Leh, it stated.
Navy ships have been put on standby for any assistance in moving oxygen tankers, the statement mentioned.
DRDO chief G Sathish Reddy briefed Singh on 250 beds being added to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Covid Hospital in Delhi, which was reopened earlier this week with 250 beds, making it a 500-bed facility. Reddy also said that in Gujarat, the DRDO has completed setting up a 1,000-bed hospital, and work to establish a Covid facility in Lucknow is under way. It will start functioning in the next few days, the ministry informed.
These hospitals would be run by the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) “in coordination and with assistance of local state governments,” the ministry stated. Since the AFMS “has its resources stretched to the limit, services of local doctors and health professionals might be enlisted for the 750-bed hospital coming up at Varanasi”, it stated.
Besides the Defence Minister, the others who attended Saturday’s meeting through video-conference are Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Secretary Defence Production Raj Kumar, DRDO’s Reddy, Deputy Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Sandeep Singh and Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surg Vice Admiral Rajat Datta.
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