Indian Railways is targeting to make 1 lakh coveralls by May 31 for the country’s frontline staff battling the COVID-19 outbreak . As of now, it has procured raw material for 60,000 of this critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and distributed it among its various zones.
Railways’ coverall samples were passed by DRDO laboratory in Gwalior following which it picked up material from the four government-authorised suppliers of raw material for PPEs to stitch the coveralls.
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While raw material for 60,000 coveralls is already distributed among all zonal railways, the same for another 40,000 has been requisitioned and will reach by April-end so that the figure touches a lakh by end of May. The coveralls that Railways is making are for half the cost of those available in the market, officials said.
Including GST, the railway coverall costs Rs 447 per piece, whereas the ones available in the market are for Rs 808.50.
“We have tied up with the government-approved raw material suppliers. What we are making are not just cheaper but also superior in quality compared to what is available in the market,” said Arun Arora, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer of Northern Railway, which got its coverall samples passed by the DRDO lab and then sent the design and tutorial videos to other zones to follow. Northern Railway is also the nodal procurement body for coverall-related material in all of Indian Railways.
On Monday, for two consecutive days, the workshops and other units of Northern Railway together stitched over 1,000 coveralls a day. So far the zone has made 3467 coveralls and has supplied to railway hospitals and elsewhere as well. It is targeting to make over 10,000 coveralls by month-end. In the overall pool of a lakh coveralls by Indian Railways, this zone is gearing up to make around 40,000-50,000.
However, in what could prove to be a setback, the UP government Monday shut down the two main workshops in Lucknow where these PPE items were being made– one in Alambagh and the other in Charbagh as part of containment measures. A stitching facility identified in Noida has also been shut down for the same reason. However, officials maintained that despite these hurdles, they would be able to achieve the target. “We expect to make around 40,000-50,000 coveralls in Northern Railway alone by May 31,” Arora said.
Recently, at least 30,000 PPEs that arrived from China as donations did not pass Indian tests. There has also been complaints of spurious coveralls in the market. India requires around 15 million coveralls by June. The government has pressed into service several manufacturers to meet the demand and is also exploring various options to import.
Uttar Pradesh’s Madhyanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Limited has sought 100 litres of hand sanitiser from Northern Railway, which has so far made 4798 litres of it.
On Monday, the district administration in Dhanbad shut down the Divisional Railway Manager’s office as containment and quarantine measures.