Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting to review MoD’s preparations and response to COVID-19 situation, via video conferencing, in New Delhi

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday asked defence public sector undertakings, DRDO and Ordnance Factory Board to work on a war footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to state governments at the earliest to help them in dealing with the surging cases of COVID 19.

At a virtual meeting with the top defence brass, Singh also granted emergency financial powers to three forces and other defence agencies for procurement of medical equipment and for creation of additional capacities in view of the pandemic, officials said.

The defence minister asked the armed forces to be in close contact with the civil administrations across the country and to provide any required assistance.

The meeting was attended by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Surg Vice Admiral Rajat Datta and DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy.

Officials said Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has already shared with private industry its oxygen generation technology which was developed for use on board Light Combat Aircraft Tejas,

They also said work is going on to set up a 450-bed hospital in Lucknow, 750-bed hospital in Varanasi and 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad.

India is witnessing a massive spike in coronavirus infections and many states are reporting shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and essential drugs to deal with the pandemic.