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New Delhi, April 1, 2020
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today directed various defence organisations to redouble their efforts to assist civilian authorities in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Reviewing the assistance being extended by various organisations of the Ministry of Defence to fight COVID-19, through video conferencing, the Minister appreciated the efforts being made by various Services, organisations and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) in terms of evacuation and provision of health care in quarantine facilities.
They were also involved in research and production of medical equipment such as sanitizers, facemasks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Participants at the conference included Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.
Rajnath Singh directed all the organisations to redouble their efforts and work in close coordination with other ministries/organisations of Central Government in this crucial hour.
Gen Rawat informed the Minister that separate hospitals have been identified to exclusively deal with COVID-19 and more than 9,000 hospital beds have been made available. Over 1,000 evacuees are quarantined at facilities in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Chennai, Manesar, Hindan and Mumbai. Their quarantine period will end by April 7.
Admiral Karambir Singh said naval ships were on standby to extend any required assistance. The Navy was also extending assistance as required by local civilian administration.
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria stated that the Air Force planes conducted several sorties within the country in the last five days to transport approximately 25 tonnes of medical supplies. Critical operational work was continuing while ensuring all necessary precautions.
Gen Naravane said more than 8,500 doctors and support staff were available to extend necessary assistance to civilian administration. Referring to Rajnath Singh’s direction that help should be provided to neighbouring countries, he said assistance to Nepal in the form of medical equipment will be delivered shortly.
Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO G Satheesh Reddy said 50,000 litres of sanitizers made by DRDO labs were supplied to various security entities, including Delhi Police and another one lakh litres were supplied all over the country.
A five-layered nanotechnology face mask N99 was being made on a war footing. Around 10,000 have already been made and soon per day production will be extended to 20,000. DRDO labs have also supplied 40,000 other face masks to Delhi Police.
DRDO Secretary, being a member of the empowered Group of Secretaries was coordinating closely with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding the requirement of medical equipment. Another DRDO laboratory has also made arrangements to make 20,000 PPE per day. DRDO is also engaged in a minor modification of ventilators so that one machine can support four patients at the same time.
DG AFMS Lt Gen Anup Banerji said necessary equipment has been procured and dispatched to various hospitals. Retired health professionals have also been kept in readiness to volunteer their services. Approximately 25,000 National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets were being mobilised to provide necessary local assistance.
Various DPSUs such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) and Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) have contributed Rs 40 crore of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds to Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund.
In addition, they have also contributed one-day salary of all their employees to the PM-CARES Fund. Following the direction from Raksha Mantri, the DPSUs conveyed to him that they have made salary payment to all the casual and contractual workers also.
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is also engaged in manufacturing hand sanitisers, face masks and PPE.