The Western Command responds to Punjab CM’s call for help to cope with COVID crisis

Responding to Captain Amarinder Singh’s plea for help, the Western Command of the Indian Army on Monday offered personnel and assistance in reviving defunct oxygen plants in the state

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh (IANS Photo)
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh (IANS Photo)

Bipin Bhardwaj

After registering over 75 deaths and more than 7000 cases of coronavirus in a day, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Monday sought help from the Indian Army to combat war like covid crises in the state.

Responding to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s plea for help in the war-like Covid situation, the Western Command of the Indian Army extended medical staff and medically trained combatants to Punjab to meet the shortages in hospitals, and for reviving the state’s old Oxygen plants that are currently lying defunct.

Lt. Gen. RP Singh, GOC-in-C, Western Command, Chandimandir, at a virtual meeting with the Chief Minister and senior Command officials, also offered to provide staff to run the 100-bed Covid facility proposed to be set up in the building loaned to the state government by CSIR for the purpose.

Taking to Facebook Capt. Amarinder Singh wrote: “Met with GOC-in-C Western Command & ADGPI-Indian Army officials to seek their assistance in our fight against #Covid19. Thank them for their positive response to work closely with the State Government for both treatment of patients & management of logistics of Oxygen supply.”

The Chief Minister later said at another review meeting with top officials of the state government and medical experts that the government was also approaching the Union Home Ministry to provide manpower and ICU beds through the Border Security Force (BSF).

Technical and specialist cover will be provided by the Command Centre, Lt Gen Singh told the Chief Minister during their VC, adding that 15 trained nurses had already been sent to Patiala to support the civic staff. Further, experts will be sent to visit the defunct Oxygen plants at existing industrial units to assess their status and extend whatever support needed for their restoration.

Though their resources were stretched on account of requirements from other states, including Delhi, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, army officials said they would extend all possible help to Punjab to tackle the situation, which the Chief Minister said was critical, with Ludhiana alone reporting over 1300 cases today and Oxygen allocation from the centre currently at only 105 tonnes as against the demand of 300 tonnes daily. Of the 105 tonnes, the state was actually getting only 85 tonnes with the rest being diverted to PGI Chandigarh.

The Chief Minister said, later at the internal review meeting that the state government was making all efforts to secure medical Oxygen to supplement its depleting stocks. The meeting was informed by Secretary Industries, Alok Shekhar, that Jalandhar and Amritsar had been facing crisis situation on the Oxygen front for the past few days, which the state had somehow handled through judicious management.

While he was not proposing a lockdown, which leads to exodus and economic woes, the Chief Minister made it clear that other stringent steps were being taken to manage the escalating crisis. Punjab yesterday reported over 7000 cases, with the situation expected to worsen, especially in south Punjab amid the rising number of cases in neighbouring states, he pointed out.

The Chief Minister directed the Health Department to follow up with the Centre for vaccine supplies as the state presently had only 1.76 lakh Covishield and 22000 Covaxin doses in stock.

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