Defence ministry ramps up effort for Covid-19 relief
To help the country tide over the Covid-19 crisis, defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) are leaving no stone unturned, people familiar with the developments said on Sunday.
“It (OFB) has earmarked nearly 60% its existing strength for Covid care… 813 beds out of a total of 1,405 are now reserved for Covid patients… In this hour of crisis, they (OFB and DPSUs) are catering to the civilian population from their existing services in coordination with the state governments,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
The OFB is providing Covid care at its medical facilities in 25 locations scattered across Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha and Uttarakhand, the official statement said.
The OFB is the country’s main producer of military arsenal. It controls 41 ordnance factories engaged in the production of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, bombs, rockets, artillery guns, anti-aircraft guns, parachutes, small arms and clothing for soldiers.
State-run plane-maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has started work on setting up a 250-bed Covid hospital in Lucknow, with the facility expected to be functional in early May, the ministry added, detailing steps being that are being taken by the DPSUs and the OFB to help state governments deal with the deadly second wave of the pandemic.
HAL has already set up two Covid facilities in Bengaluru with 250 and 180 beds each. It will now focus on providing more ventilators and oxygen points in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and Bengaluru, Karnataka. It has also operationalised a 70-bed facility in Odisha’s Koraput and a 40-bed hospital in Maharashtra’s Nasik.
The DPSUs are fast-tracking the procurement of oxygen plants for state government hospitals under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) scheme. These include Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), BEML Limited, HAL, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) Limited and MIDHANI.
On Saturday, defence minister Rajnath Singh said the armed forces and the defence ministry “will leave no stone unturned in providing all possible assistance to the civilian administration.”
The DRDO is among the organisations that are at the forefront of fighting the pandemic that has ripped through the country. It has so far set up or is in the process of setting up state-of-the-art Covid hospitals in six cities to treat more than 3,100 critical patients.
The Indian Air Force has also intensified its efforts for Covid relief with its transport aircraft ferrying large oxygen containers to filling stations in different parts of the country.