Armed forces helping admin in fight against COVID-19: Centre to HC

Team Udayavani, May 10, 2021, 8:30 PM IST

Ahmedabad: Indian Armed Forces have stepped up their efforts to assist the civil administration across the country in tackling the current COVID-19 situation by deploying aircraft, warships and medical resources, the Centre told the Gujarat High Court on Monday.

On the request of the Gujarat government seeking higher allocation of medical oxygen, the Centre said as far as the distribution of medical oxygen is concerned the Supreme Court has set up a National Task Force for the same.

The Union government filed a reply before the division bench of the high court Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav D Karia which is hearing a suo motu (on its own) PIL on the COVID-19 situation in Gujarat.

The HC had directed the Union government to file a reply on the status of the efforts undertaken by it to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis.

On the supply of Remdesivir injections, the Centre stated it released on May 7 an updated allocation plan, valid for the period between April 21 and May 16, as per which Gujarat gets 4.19 lakh vials.

Apprising the bench about efforts undertaken by the Centre in tackling the COVID-19 surge, it said the Department of Space, as well as the public sector oil and gas companies, have also come forward to assist the government.

The Indian Navy has augmented manpower at Dhanvantri COVID Care Hospital in Ahmedabad by adding 90 personnel, taking the total number of personnel deployed by it at the hospital to 169, the bench was told.

The Centre said all these personnel are ”experienced in their respective specialisations andwell versed with the Covid care protocols”.

Even the Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre (SAC) of ISRO has converted two liquid nitrogen tanks of about 1.65 lakhs litres into liquid oxygen tanks for storage and supply in hospitals in Ahmedabad and nearby areas. The SAC is also supplying face shields and PPE kits, it said.

The Indian Navy has stepped up its COVID relief operation and deployed nine warships as part of ‘Operation Samudra Setu II’ from all three Naval Commands in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam and Kochi for the shipment of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) and associated medical equipment from friendly foreign countries in the Persian Gulf and South-East Asia, the Centre said.

”…..The Indian Army has deployed ”considerable medical resources” to assist civil authorities in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Varanasi and Patna,” it said.

The Centre further told the high court that as on May 7, C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force conducted 400 sorties within the country, including 351 to airlift 252 oxygen tankers of the total capacity of 4,904 Metric Tonnes (MT).

The cities covered included Jamnagar, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Panagarh, Indore, Ranchi, Agra, Jodhpur, Begumpet, Bhubaneswar, Pune, Surat, Raipur, Udaipur, Mumbai, Lucknow, Nagpur, Gwalior, Vijayawada, Vadodara, Dimapur and Hindan, it said.

The Centre said the IAF aircraft also conducted 59 international sorties to airlift 72 cryogenic oxygen storage containers of the total 1,233 MT capacity along with 1,252 empty oxygen cylinders.

These containers and cylinders were procured from Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok, UK, Germany, Belgium and Australia.

”In addition, the C-17 and IL-76 aircraft have been tasked to airlift cryogenic oxygen containers, oxygen generators and ventilators from Israel and Singapore,” the bench was told.

The Centre further said the public sector oil and gas companies are setting up about 100 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants in public health facilities in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, with the entire expenditure to be borne by these companies from their CSR fund.

The Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had on May 7 made a fresh plan for the allocation of 53 lakh vials of remdesivir between April 21 and May 16, with Gujarat getting 4.19 lakh vials, the fourth highest after Maharashtra (11.57 lakh), Karnataka (5.75 lakh) and Uttar Pradesh (4.95 lakh).

The next hearing will be held on Tuesday.

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