NEW DELHI: Amidst the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country, Defence Miinister Rajnath Singh held a virtual meeting on Tuesday to review the preparedness of Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces to deal with it. The minister has also advised the army establishments to aid the state governments in dealing with COVID pandemic.
Rajnath Singh was briefed about the measures taken by Armed Forces Medical Service (AFMS), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and other departments of Ministry of Defence such as National Cadet Corps (NCC) in providing aid to the civil administration in this hour of crisis.
Bharat Bhushan, Spokesperson Ministry of Defence said, “DRDO Chairman briefed that a COVID-19 facility, developed by DRDO, has again been made functional in New Delhi and efforts are being made to soon increase the number of beds from 250 to 500. Employees State Insurance Hospital Patna has started functioning with 500 beds as a COVID hospital.”
Dr G Satheesh Reddy added that work is on war footing to set up a 450-bed hospital in Lucknow, 750-bed hospital in Varanasi and 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad.
Meanwhile, Army Chief General MM Naravane issued instructions to the Army establishments in various states, as asked by the Defence Minister, to assist the state governments in dealing with the spike in COVID Cases. Sources informed, "The senior most Army officer in every state have been asked to meet the Chief Minister to understand the requirements and to extend treatment to patients wherever it is possible.”
“The officers of the Air Force and Navy have also been asked to be prepared to deal with any requirement.” told a source.
The 67 hospitals run by the Cantonment Boards spread across the country have also been primed to actively handle the cases of people in Board area and also those from outside.
Defence Minister, during the review meeting also has suggested to utilise the services of vaccinated retired Armed Forces personnel to assist the civil administration/state governments to deal with the current situation.
Important input regarding the supply of Oxygen also came up during the meeting that a 1000 litre/minute capacity oxygen generation plants technology has been given to the industry and the Uttar Pradesh government has placed order of five such plants with the industry. This technology is based on the On-Board Oxygen Generation Technology developed for Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.
DRDO Chairman Dr Reddy added that more plants can be supplied by the industry to cater to the hospital requirements. He further said SpO2 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) based supplemental oxygen delivery system developed for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas can be used for COVID patients as their conditions become similar. The product, he said, will be available soon in the market from the industry as per technology provided by DRDO.
Rajnath Singh urged the DPSUs, OFB and DRDO to work on war footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to civil administration/state governments at the earliest. Rajnath Singh also delegated the emergency powers of procurement so that critical needs are procured.
The review meeting was attended by Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, CDS General Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Army Chief General M M Naravane, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surg Vice Admiral Rajat Datta, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy and other senior civil & military officers attended the meeting.
During the meeting, Rajnath Singh also discussed ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 among the Armed Forces personnel and the officers/staff working in Ministry of Defence.