In the midst of a crisis of oxygen shortage in hospitals which has led to a sharp spike in Covid deaths across the country, the army has stepped in to revive the defunct oxygen plants to augment oxygen production in the state of Punjab.
On the request of Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, the Indian Army’s western command in collaboration with civil administration is striving to revive defunct industrial oxygen plants to create oxygen supply to meet the crisis.
A special task force has been set up to revive the defunct oxygen plant at Bhakra Nangal in Himachal Pradesh. The army is also chipping in to bolster medical infrastructure and paramedics. Paramedics used during the war are being reoriented for Covid management.
Colonel Jasveer Sandhu in charge of joint Military Civil Affairs tells India Today, “Our joint teams are examining oxygen plants in industrial units. The purpose is to generate oxygen. The task force which has been formed comprises combat engineer and electrical, mechanical engineer along with teams of civil administration. Will examine the possibility of rejuvenating industrial oxygen. If things work out fine. We are looking at a week’s time to start producing O2. “
According to officials, if there is a success, the western command could be looking at reviving at least half a dozen more oxygen plants of industrial houses at a short notice. Some of these plants are as old as 20 years.
Besides this, the western command is helping states of Himachal, Haryana, and Delhi deal with the covid situation by offering it’s paramedics and field hospital to deal with massive inflow at major points.
Col Jasveer Sandhu, Officer in charge of Joint Military civil affairs says further that the demand is not limited to Punjab alone. He says, in Punjab, we have offered infrastructure and our paramedics. We have some paramedics from Army in Patiala. And in several other locations. We’re considering giving combat paramedics used in war, and we are reorienting and training them for combat management.”
The western command has expanded its footprints from helping its own to the outsider. Army’s base hospital has been converted into an exclusive 1,000 bedded Covid hospital. In DRDO 1/3rd staff is from Western command. Special Arrangements have been made at Ambala, Meerut, and Mathura.
The paramedics are on standby if Haryana state has demand. Field hospitals called Medical Bricks are ready to be built at short notice. They will have beds with oxygen. The Punjab Government had earlier sought assistance in building a field hospital in Mohali but has been now been decided to be in another city. A decision will be conveyed to the Army soon.
In Haryana, the Western Command is helping with detailed wards in Faridabad. Also, 100 beds in the UT of Chandigarh hav been committed.
General MM Naravane apprised PM Modi that Army is opening up its hospitals for civilians wherever possible.