Delhi-based Northern Railway has produced around 50,000 PPE coveralls so far supplying to railway staff and hospitals, the highest for any zonal railway.
Alongside running the Shramik Special trains and planning for restoration of its passenger services, the Indian Railways has so far also managed to make over 1.2 lakh PPE coveralls in its workshops.
The government’s nodal agency for supply of PPEs, HLL Lifecare is understood to have told Indian Railways that it would be able to supply these critical PPE items as per the transporter’s need only by July. But Railways has already created its own manufacturing capability of at least 4,000 pieces per day.
Delhi-based Northern Railway, which is the nodal agency for the entire Railways for this project after getting its prototype sample passed by DRDO lab, has produced around 50,000 PPE coveralls so far supplying to railway staff & hospitals, the highest for any zonal railway.
Around 5,000 hospital beds of Railways have been marked by the government for dedicated Covid-19 hospitals in the outbreak containment strategy. The demand for these items within the system is huge.
PPEs, especially the coveralls, are essential in protecting those at the frontline of outbreak containment efforts. During the course of the outbreak, medical professionals have often equated PPEs with “bulletproof jackets” worn by soldiers in battle. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his latest address to the nation had cited India’s growing capacity of PPE production as an example of self reliance in the “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan”.
“Alongside our normal job of periodic overhauling of rolling stock and routine maintenance of coaches, etc as more and more services are resumed, we are geared up to ramp up our PPE manufacturing as well and we will contribute around 70,000 coveralls per month for the frontline staff,” said Arun Arora, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer of Northern Railway, who is heading the project.
In the 23 days of May, Northern Railway has produced 38,501 PPE coveralls, exceeding the Railway ministry’s given target by over 8,000. Along with this, its workshops in six locations including Delhi and Lucknow have also produced over 1 lakh washable masks and almost 10,000 litres of hand sanitizers.
Indian Railways has produced 20 lakh face masks. “The moment the workshops are allowed to operate at 100% strength, our capacity will grow manifold,” he said. From having no PPE coverall manufacturing facility in India until March 20 this year, India has managed to ramp up its indigenous capacity of production of the critical item to nearly 5 lakh pieces per day.
PPEs are usually incinerated after use of a day and as per an official estimate India might need 2 crore coveralls for medical staff fighting Covid-19 by June.