Rajnath Singh reviews preparedness of Defence Ministry, Armed Forces amid COVID-19 surge


New Delhi : Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday held a virtual meeting to review the preparedness of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces to deal with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.

Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surg Vice Admiral Rajat Datta, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Chairman Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr G Satheesh Reddy and other senior civil and military officers attended the meeting through video conferencing.

During the meeting, Singh was briefed about the measures taken by AFMS, DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and other departments of the Ministry of Defence such as the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in providing aid to the civil administration in this hour of crisis.

He 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.

The Union Minister called upon the Armed Forces to be in close contact with the state governments and be ready to provide any required assistance. He also delegated the emergency powers of procurement so that critical needs are procured.

DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy informed Singh that a COVID-19 facility, developed by DRDO, has again been made functional in the national capital and efforts are being made to soon increase the number of beds from 250 to 500.

The DRDO chairman, said, “ESIC Hospital, which was converted to COVID hospital in Patna, has started functioning with 500 beds.”

He 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.

Reddy informed that based on the On-Board Oxygen Generation Technology developed for LCA Tejas, a 1000 litre/minute capacity oxygen generation plants technology has been given to the industry and the Uttar Pradesh government has placed the order of five such plants with the industry.

Dr Reddy said 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 will be available soon in the market from the industry as per technology provided by DRDO.”

Rajnath Singh suggested to utilise the services of vaccinated retired Armed Forces personnel to assist the civil administration/state governments to deal with the current situation.

During the meeting, he also discussed ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 among the Armed Forces personnel and the officers/staff working in the Ministry of Defence.
He focused on COVID appropriate behaviour at the work place, stressing the need to strictly follow all the COVID protocols such as wearing masks at all times and maintaining physical distancing.

India reported 2,59,170 new COVID-19 infections and 1,761 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. This has taken the total number of positive cases in the country to 1,53,21,089. There are currently 20,31,977 active cases in the country as of Tuesday. (ANI)