Our Defence forces are battling COVID-19 in full gear, and they are making a big difference

As India grapples with the pandemic’s second wave, our armed forces are contributing silently, though swiftly and significantly, in the all-out effort. A case in point about the citizenry’s unwavering faith in the institution is the Delhi Government seeking the military’s “urgent help” and the Patna High Court, while slamming the Bihar Government for its shoddy handling of the contagion, saying it wanted the armed forces to take over the State’s health infrastructure. These two recent instances speak volumes about the credibility of the Services in general and the women and men in uniform, in particular. All the arms of the military establishment — the Army, Navy and the Air Force — are now in the thick of action in the war on the accursed virus: Setting up hospitals for Corona patients, ferrying the much-needed oxygen from abroad and rushing medicines and related equipment to all parts of the country. Even as nearly 65 military stations across India have thrown open their medical facilities for civilians, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has set up an oxygen generation plant at the AIIMS, New Delhi. Four more such plants capable of generating more than 1,000 litres of oxygen per hour will soon start functioning in the RML Hospital, Lady Hardinge, Safdarjung and the AIIMS in Jhajjar, Rohtak. The system can cater to 190 patients at a flow rate of five litres per minute and charge 195 cylinders per day.

The Medical Oxygen Plant technology has been developed by the DRDO based on the on-board oxygen generation for the Tejas light combat aircraft and will help overcome the logistics issues of oxygen transportation. Besides coming up with innovative solutions to beat the oxygen shortage, the DRDO has set up COVID-19 hospitals in Delhi, Lucknow and Ahmedabad. More such centres, equipped with ventilators, oxygen and an ICU, will soon come up. Called in on April 23, the IAF is making relentless sorties, especially to airlift oxygen from abroad. One of its C-17 aircraft flew 35 hours to fetch cryogenic oxygen containers from England. Earlier, another C-17 flew 14 hours non-stop to get cylinders from Germany. Looking at the serious situation, the IAF has to date brought in more than 60 cryogenic containers and 900 oxygen cylinders from Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok, Frankfurt and the UK, clocking over 140 flying hours. Battling the pandemic, the armed forces have not been impervious to the safety of their own personnel. The Army and the IAF have vaccinated nearly their entire strength. The Army even ensured that its troops, deployed in Ladakh amid the ongoing standoff with the Chinese, are administered both doses of the vaccine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh are consistently monitoring the diligence of the Defence forces in meeting the COVID-19 challenge. Truly, the nation’s people always look up to our armed forces in times of crisis. Their great hope and trust have never been belied, and our uniformed personnel ain’t going to let them down, now or ever!