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Indian Army’s Extensive Military Infrastructures Continue to Lend Yeoman Services in COVID Fight

[avatar user=”Anil” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” target=”_blank”]LT. COL. ANIL BHAT[/avatar]

India’s Armed Forces and Defence Ministry production units continue their countrywide assistance in combating the effects of Covid 19, allegedly a dirty and deadly biological weapon. The disease first broke in Wuhan, China and then spread infectiously worldwide.

Indian Air Force (IAF) continuing to be ready 24 x 7 to undertake any task, airlifted essential medical supplies and commodities from nodal points to various states across the country including Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, Nagaland and the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

IAF flew dedicated sorties for Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), airlifting around 9000 kgs of raw material from various nodal points for producing personal protective equipment (PPE) at the production facilities of DRDO.

IAF has mobilised its transport and rotary wing aircraft along with the necessary support infrastructure to create and maintain ‘air-bridges’ between nodal supply bases and recipient locations across the country. IAF has undertaken transportation of medical supplies including PPE, testing kits, sanitization material and associated equipment along with the movement by air of medical personnel.

IAF has airlifted material to locations in 16 States and Union Territories of J&K, Ladakh and Puducherry. The critical requirement of transporting swab samples for testing from the UT of Ladakh continues to be undertaken by IAF. In addition, IAF has also airlifted COVID support material for various agencies including DRDO and ICMR. Till date, IAF has transported approximately 450 tonnes of medical equipment and support materials.

Information about the precautions for COVID-19 along with the regular guidelines issued by the Government of India continue to be disseminated to all IAF bases. Stringent sanitization and social distancing measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in IAF work places. The ‘Arogya Setu’ application is being utilised by IAF personnel and their family members as a proactive measure for keeping them safe.

Reaching out to those in need during the Covid-19 crisis, Naval Air Station, Utkrosh and Material Organisation, Port Blair (MO(PBR)), distributed food in Port Blair. for 155 labourers working for the infrastructural development of the Air Station and staying in its vicinity as well as cooked meals and dry provisions for the children and staff. Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram,  a non profit organization providing food and shelter to adivasi children and poor adivasi families visiting Port Blair for medical treatment. The team also sensitised the children and staff about the COVID-19 and the precautions to be exercised during lockdown to avoid spread of the pandemic.

A Portable Mutlifeed Oxygen Manifold developed by Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam was handed over to Mr. V Vinay Chand, Collector Visakhapatnam by Rear Sreekumar Nair, Admiral Superintendent, Naval Dockyard in presence of Rear Admiral CS Naidu, Command Medical Officer, Eastern Naval Command and Dr PV Sudhakar Principal Andhra Medical College on 09 April 2020.   The entire set up uses an industrial 6-way radial header to enable one jumbo size oxygen bottle to supply oxygen to six patients concurrently. After five sets handed over to the Collector, 20 more will be progressively supplied by early/mid-May 2020.

While all missions for coastal and offshore security continue as before. operational units are being maintained in readiness by following a 14 day quarantine routine to meet immediate contingencies, including assistance to civil authorities and friendly maritime neighbours.

Several quarantine facilities have been set up in naval premises at Mumbai, Goa, Kochi and Visakhapatnam for use by our countrymen. Last week, a batch of 44 ex-Iran  pilgrims from the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir who were quarantined at the naval  facility in Mumbai, returned to their homes fully satisfied at the care and comfort they received from the Indian Navy. Naval aircraft have undertaken many missions flying supplies and personnel aiding state governments.

The Indian Navy has been proactive in sharing experiences, and SOPs adopted by the Indian Navy have been hosted on the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) website with a view to share our protocols with other navies.

Around 50,000 NCC boy and girl cadets have so far volunteered for various duties after being trained and properly briefed about them. Ensuring that all the cadets are provided with proper safety equipment like masks, gloves, etc the cadets are on various duties like, traffic management, supply chain management, preparation and packaging of food items, distribution of food and essential items, queue management, social distancing, manning control centres and CCTV control rooms. Apart from this, cadets are sensitising the public against Covid 19 by sending messages on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, etc.

Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has started supply of coveralls conforming to ISO Class 3 exposure standards. Manufacture of initial order of 1,00,000 from HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL) is in full swing and will be completed in 40 days.

OFB has also come up with a cost-effective solution for isolation wards with the manufacture of two-bed tents with medical equipment for screening, isolation and quarantine. These special tents can be used for medical emergency, medical screening, hospital triage and quarantine purposes. Made of waterproof fabric, mild steel and aluminium alloy,  these tents with floor area of 9.55 square metres can be set up in any place and terrain for creating additional facilities- other than those in conventional hospitals- within a short period of time. Manufactured by Ordnance Equipment Factory, Kanpur, 50 tents were recently handed over to Government      of Arunachal Pradesh.

OFB’s Opto Electronics Factory, Dehradun, has donated 2,500 bottles (100 ml each) of hand sanitisers and 1,000 face masks to the Governor, Uttarakhand, on April 6, 2020. OFB’s Cordite Factory, Aruvankadu, handed over 100 litres of sanitisers to the Nilgiris District Police authorities in Tamil Nadu on April 08, 2020. High Explosives Factory, Pune despatched the first batch of 2,500 litres of sanitisers to M/s HLL, Belgavi  on  April 9, 2020.

Ordnance Factory Ambajhari, Nagpur has developed a fumigation chamber for the purpose of sanitisation. Fully portable and moveable with ease, it is installed at the main entrance of factory’s Hospital.

Ordnance Factory, Dehradun, which indigenously made pedal-operated handwashing systems fitted with soap dispenser, handed them over to the police authorities on April 7, 2020.

Ordnance Factory Dehu Road, Pune distributed food kits amongst labourers at Dehugaon village on April 6, 2020.

Two units of the OFB, namely the Small Arms Factory, Kanpur and the Heavy Vehicle Factory, Avadi, Tamil Nadu have been granted accreditation by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories for conducting the ‘Test for Blood Penetration Resistance’ today as the test equipment manufactured by them met the ASTM F 1670:2003 and ISO 16603:2004 standards. The equipment was developed by a number of Ordnance Factories in a competitive mission mode in a record time of a fortnight.

Hitherto, this test was available only with South India Textile Research Association (SITRA), Coimbatore in the entire country and testing of the fabric for manufacture of coveralls had emerged as a critical bottleneck especially during the nationwide lockdown and in the absence of logistics.

While this adds another test facility in South India, a first such facility has been established in North India. This will not only enable the OFB to ramp up production of coveralls in the clothing factories, four of which are in UP and one in TN, but will also enable other agencies engaged in the manufacture of coveralls to avail this crucial testing facility.

Ordinance Factories (OFs) are presently producing sanitisers 7,500 litres against an order of 28,000 litres from HLL, the nodal agency appointed by Government of India for centralised procurement. The OFs have supplied 5,148 litres another 15,000 litres are ready for supply awaiting destination from HLL. So far, OFB has manufactured 60,230 litres of sanitisers which have been distributed to units of HLL at Indore, Belgavi, Thiruvananthapuram, Central Railways, MECL, Nagpur district administration, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Cantonment Board Willington, DM Nagpur, DRM Solapur besides its own hospitals in Ordnance Factories. Two test facilities for blood penetration test has been established, one at Chennai and another at Kanpur.

The OFB has so far manufactured 1,11,405 masks which include 38,520 3-ply medical masks. These have been distributed to Tamil Nadu Police, district civil and police authorities in Firozabad and Agra, Cantonment Board Shahjahanpur, Government of Uttarakhand, District Health Officer Shahjahanpur, Military Intelligence, etc.

Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad has added another product to the portfolio of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) by developing COVID Sample Collection Kiosk (COVSACK).

Developed by DRDL in consultation with the doctors of Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), Hyderabad.the COVSACK is a kiosk for use by healthcare workers for taking COVID-19 samples from suspected infected patients, whose  nasal or oral swab is taken by health care professionals from outside through the built in gloves. The Kiosk is automatically disinfected without the need for human involvement, making the process free of infection spread. The shielding screen of kiosk cabin protects the health care worker from the aerosols/droplet transmission while taking the sample. This reduces the requirements of PPE change by health care workers. After the patient leaves the Kiosk, four nozzle sprayers mounted in the kiosk cabin disinfect the empty chamber by spraying disinfectant mist for a period of 70 seconds. It is further flushed with water and ultra-violet light disinfection. The system is ready for next use in less than two minutes. Voice command can be given through two-way communication system integrated with the COVSACK. It is possible to configure COVSACK to be used either from inside or outside as required by the medical professionals.

The COVSACK costs nearly Rs 1,00,000/- and the identified industry based at Belgaum, Karnataka can support 10 units per day. DRDO has designed and developed two units and handed over these to ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad after successful testing.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Bengaluru, a Defence PSU has set up isolation ward facility with three beds in Intensive Care Unit and 30 beds in wards. In addition, a building having 30 rooms was readied. In all, 93 persons can be accommodated at HAL facility.  HAL has manufactured and distributed 25 PPEs to Doctors in various Hospitals in Bangalore which are authorised to treat Covid-19 patients. It has also manufactured 160 aerosol boxes which have been distributed to various Government Hospitals in Bengaluru, Mysore, Mumbai, Pune, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) has come forward on the directions of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) to manufacture and supply 30,000 ventilators within two months for ICUs in the country. The design of these ventilators was originally developed by DRDO, which was improved upon by M/s Skanray, Mysore, with whom BEL has collaborated. BEL is likely to start manufacturing of ventilators between April 20-24, 2020. As per tentative schedule, BEL is expected to manufacture 5,000 units in April, 10,000 in May and 15,000 in June 2020. It is also making efforts to indigenise these components with the help of DRDO.

Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) with a private start-up in Pune  is developing a prototype of ventilator which is likely to be tested and certified by 1st week of May before it starts  manufacturing.

Defence PSU M/s BEL has joined the efforts for large scale production of ventilators. Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) has manufactured 25 sets of five components for M/s Skanray, Mysore for manufacturing of ventilators by them.

Ordnance Factory Board, which heads 40 Ordinance Factories in the country, has started supply of coveralls conforming to ISO Class 3 exposure standards. Manufacture of initial order of 1.10 lakh from HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL) is in full swing. This order will be completed in 40 days.

Five Ordnance equipment factories located at Kanpur, Shahjahanpur, Hazratpur (Firozabad) and Chennai are engaged in manufacturing of coveralls. Present production rate is 800 per day. Efforts are on to ramp up to a level of 1,500 per day. For testing the efficacy of Coveralls and Masks, it has developed three machines which have been approved by South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) and are to be used in production to maintain the standards.

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