New Delhi: From rolling out hospital beds and medical
trolleys to making Personal Protection Equipment such as masks and sanitizers,
the Indian Railways is set to don a completely new role to help the country
fight off the deadly Covid-19.
The railways is even contemplating to convert its coaches and
cabins to isolation wards if the states run out of hospital beds upon a sudden
surge of novel coronavirus cases, thanks to suspension of all passenger
services till April 14. in view of the
country-wide lockdown. The proposal was discussed in detail in a meeting through
videoconferencing and attended by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Chairman
Railway Board V K Yadav, General Managers and Divisional Railway Managers on
“In this dire situation, the manufacturing capabilities of
Indian Railways may be needed to be harnessed in order to combat this scourge,”
Principal Executive Director (Environment and Housekeeping Management) wrote in
a direction to all the Zonal heads.
“It is noted that the manufacturing facilities available in
the Indian Railway’s Production units and Zonal Railway Workshops can be utilized
for manufacture of items like simple hospital beds, medical trolleys for
hospitals and quarantine facilities, IV stands, stretchers, hospital footsteps,
hospital bedside lockers, wash-basins with stands, ventilators, PPEs like
masks, sanitizers, water tanks etc. Other items requiring sheet metal
fabrication work, welding and machining can also be manufactured in these
facilities based on urgent requirement,” the letter read.
The Railways has also agreed to handover a new hostel
building of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project training institute in
Vadodara for creating a backup quarantine centre. The facility includes 168
rooms with 334 beds and 12 big common rooms.
The railway units across the country have commenced
production of masks, hand sanitizers and aprons for medical use. The diesel
shed at Asansol in West Bengal and the diesel locomotive shed at Jodhpur in Rajasthan
have produced over 700 liters of sanitisers in the past few days.
The diesel locomotive shed at Andal in Asansol has prepared
500 litres of sanitisers, which were packed in bottles of different sizes for
supply. The diesel locomotive shed at Bhagat ki Kothi in Jodhpur prepared 215
litres of sanitisers. Similarly, the Goldern Rock Workshop, Tiruchirappalli,
has produced 10 litres of hand sanitizers so far while the Perambur Loco Works
prepared five litres initially.
“The average cost of making sanitizers comes to Rs 570 per litre which is lot cheaper than what is sold in the market. Golden Rock workshop will soon be making 60 cots. The Perambur Carriage works has made 250 masks and nearly 50 aprons till-date. The Electric Locoshed, Erode, the facility at Arakkonam, Ernakulam Diesel loco shed and the Medical branch of Trivandum division have all started contributing,” said a Southern Railway spokesperson.