In an important development, the Indian Defence establishment has come forward to fight against the invisible enemy, the Covid-19, which is threatening to invade India.
The Indian Ordnance Factories under the Kolkata headquartered Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which primarily make arms and ammunition for the Indian armed services, has informed the Government its readiness to supply protective equipment and masks required for the healthcare professionals battling on the ground to defeat the virus. Pilot orders have been placed by the Government a couple of hours ago, sources told Business Today.
"The information is true and today we have placed a pilot order of 5000 personal protection equipment (PPEs) or coveralls, five lakh surgical masks and 500 litres of sanitisers with the OFB. They have experience of over two centuries in facing and responding to such crisis including medical emergencies and have manpower, technological expertise and have a huge infrastructure," a top-level source with HLL Lifecare Ltd, the designated single-window procurement agency for the hospitals and healthcare organisations under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
"Other than arms and ammunition, they make so many products for the armed forces and may have to re-align some manufacturing lines for this purpose to meet the quantities we require," said another official.
Started in 1775 by the British to make arms and ammunition for the army, today OFB is a giant industrial network which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence. It has 41 factories in 24 locations, 9 Training Institutes, 3 regional marketing centres and 4 regional controllers of safety. The factories have a broad and versatile production base with multi-technology capabilities. All its manufacturing units conform to ISO 9000 standards, said sources.
As reported by Business Today, efforts are on by the Government for huge procurement of 50 lakh N95 masks, 20 lakh nitrile gloves, 15 lakh PPEs, 15 lakh goggles, 2 crore surgical masks, 20 lakh sanitizers and 10 lakh VTM kits. The Government, which could not find international manufacturers for PPEs and other emergency kits, has again floated a new global tender. Efforts are also on to co-ordinate with various embassies abroad to identify and rope in manufacturers and suppliers.