Rajnath Singh (C), Manoj Mukund Naravane, and Yogi Aditiyanath during the 'Bhoomi Pujan' and foundation laying ceremony of New Command Hospital in Lucknow

Lucknow: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said the Indian Army has boosted the morale of the country and also enabled the people to hold their heads high during the border standoff with China.

He said this while addressing a gathering here during the 'bhoomipujan' and foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Command Hospital.

"The charismatic (karishmaayi) performance by the Army during the India-China standoff has boosted the morale of the country and also enabled the citizens to hold their heads high," he said, drawing a thunderous applause from the crowd.

The military face-off had erupted on May 5 following violent clashes between the Indian Army and the PLA in the Pangong lake area.

"The entire world is facing COVID-19. pandemic No one had thought that with the onset of the pandemic, celebrating festivals such as Holi, Eid and Diwali will be without much fanfare (dhoomdhaam). No one had imagined that trains will come to a halt, and schools and markets will remain closed. However, the good thing was that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, efforts to deal with the crisis started with courage and understanding (of the issue)," he said.

He added that the biggest challenge at the time of the pandemic was testing. "There were barely two laboratories, but today there are over 1,000 laboratories. There was a shortage of masks, ventilators and PPE kits. But the swiftness and understanding of the issue which India displayed, masks, PPE kits and ventilators are now being exported. This has been done in 4-6 months," Singh said.

Hailing the doctors and healthcare workers, he said, "Had our doctors, para-medical staff, whom we know as warriors, not taken the risk, we could not have fought the challenge. It is for this reason that doctors are considered as second God on earth. The threat of COVID-19 was on doctors, para-medical staff, sanitation workers. They stayed away from their families, ate food outside their homes, and then left for the hospital. These warriors have rendered charismatic performance. The doctors, para-medical staff, sanitation workers have worked as frontline soldiers and I salute their commitment and dedication."

He also informed that besides the two indigenous anti-COVID vaccines used in the nationwide vaccination drive that began on Saturday, four more vaccines are coming soon.

"These vaccines will not only be administered to people in India, but will also be exported to other countries. Because, India does not think about itself alone, but is also concerned about the entire world. Seers here gave the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam -- the whole world is a family. Since the Vedic era, the medical treatment system here has not only thought about human beings, but also of other creatures. During the reign of Ashoka, there were provisions for treatment of cows, buffaloes, cats and bats."

Singh said the construction of the New Command Hospital building addresses a long standing need of the people and commended the authorities for relocating rather than cutting trees while clearing land for it.

He assured the gathering that any obstacle to the project will be resolved in coordination with state and civil authorities. He said he was confident of the full cooperation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in this regard.

He also remembered Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy Swachh Bharat which preached equal concern for all life and has been focused upon by the current government.

Highlighting the government's focus on health he said it has taken care to scale up medical infrastructure. He added that the government is also increasing government expenditure on health and has undertaken several measures.

Singh said Ayushman Bharat has fulfilled a great need for healthcare and mentioned that more than 1.5 crore people have been benefited by the scheme which is unparalleled across the world.

Ending his address, Singh congratulated the entire nation for the ongoing 'Swarnim Vijay Varsh' celebrations, which commemorate India's great victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

He said the courage and valour of defence forces in the 1971 war a source of immense pride for the entire country. Â

Adityanath appreciated the close coordination between the armed forces and civil authorities in COVID management. He said this was essential in protecting Uttar Pradesh in the wake of the crisis. He assured full support of the state authorities in providing better health services through projects like this hospital.

Army chief General MM Naravane was also present at the programme.

The new building of Command Hospital is spread over 40 acre of land and will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 425 crore. Â

The building will have six blocks of four wings varying from three to nine storeys. All blocks are inter-connected with skyways independent of the main patient activity areas. The building complex will also have space for parking of 750 cars in addition to vertical circulation in the form of adequate numbers of elevators and ramps. Â

It will house state-of-the-art facilities with all specialties and sub-specialties notably cardiology with a modern Interventional Catheterisation Lab, Modular Operation Theatres with one hybrid Operation Theatre, State of the Art Nephrology and Dialysis Centre and Composite Oncology Centre. Â

The hospital was raised in 1859 and designated as Command Hospital (Central Command) in 1967. The building of the new Command Hospital was approved by the Chief of the Army Staff in 2018.