With the coronavirus pandemic slowly increasing its footprint in India, the government is scrambling to meet the massive shortfalls in health infrastructure. Two critical defence ministry stakeholders —the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) —have joined the war against Covid-19.
These organisations have been tasked with meeting shortfalls -- from ventilators to emergency care facilities and basic personal protection equipment like masks, clothing and gloves. The DRDO has a network of 46 laboratories while the OFB has 40 weapons and ammunition making factories. The DRDO — the nodal agency to protect soldiers from a biological weapons attack— has reoriented itself to fighting a pandemic. Chairman DRDO Dr V Satheesh Reddy says eight laboratories have been earmarked to producing personal protective equipment, masks and ventilator parts. “We have given the government a list of our technologies and our scientists are continuously rolling out new applications over the next few days,” he says.
One of its labs in Delhi has developed portable backpack area sanitisation equipment.
The DRDO is working with industry to ramp up production capacity to 15,000 bio suits per day.
The Bhopal-based Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), the nodal agency for protection from biological weapons, has been asked to test for Covid-19 cases.
The Kolkatabased Ordnance Factory Board has temporarily halted the production of arms, ammunition and equipment in nearly 40 factories across the country in keeping with the government rules during the 21-day lockdown. It is now producing PPE masks coveralls and hand sanitisers.
Three factories Aruvankadu, Bhandara and Itarsi — which usually produce explosives have produced 50,000 litres of hand sanitisers — equivalent to 5 lakh bottles — in less than a week.
The board has given emergency powers to 10 of its factories to procure raw materials to manufacture protective equipment. OFB Chairman Hari Mohan puts his organisation’s role in perspective.
“OFB is meant to support the country in war – and today the country is at war with coronavirus, our medical fraternity are our soldiers now – it is our duty to support our soldiers, our health workers and our police forces.”
(Courtesy of Mail Today)