Defence minister Rajnath Singh today asked the armed forces to remain in close contact with state governments and be ready to provide any assistance required to grapple with the Corona crisis.

He also delegated them emergency powers to procure medical equipment of critical importance. Singh held a virtual meeting to review the preparedness of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces to deal with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases across the country.

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 and other senior officials were present.

Singh was briefed on the measures taken by various units under the defence ministry in providing aid to the civil administration in this hour of crisis. He urged the DPSUs, OFB and DRDO to work on war-footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to civil administration/state governments at the earliest.

The defence minister was informed by DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy that a Covid19 facility, developed by DRDO,  has again been made functional in New Delhi and efforts were being made to soon increase the number of beds from 250 to 500. He informed that work was under way on a war- footing to set up a 450-bed hospital in Lucknow, 750-bed hospital in Varanasi and 900- bed hospital in Ahmedabad. Singh also suggested that the services of vaccinated retired armed forces personnel be utilised to assist the civil administration/state governments to deal with the current situation.