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Defence ministry grants emergency financial powers to military medical officials

NEW DELHI (PTI):  The defence ministry on Friday sanctioned emergency financial powers of Rs five crore to the director general of medical services of the three services to make procurement to boost medical infrastructure in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

According to an official order, emergency powers for procurement worth Rs three crore were delegated to major general-rank medical officers, while brigadier-rank medical officials will have the powers to make purchases worth Rs two crore.

The formal order came four days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced granting emergency financial powers to the three services and other defence agencies to make necessary procurement to enhance medical infrastructure in view of the pandemic.

The emergency powers have been delegated up to September 30 with a provision for their revision and extension.

"This is a proactive measure taken by the defence ministry to enable the armed forces' medical services to provide medical services to the personnel of the armed forces as well as to aid the civil administration," an official said.

At a virtual meeting on Monday, Singh asked the defence public sector undertakings, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Ordnance Factory Board to work on a war footing to provide oxygen cylinders and extra beds to various state governments at the earliest, besides extending all required help.

It was decided that the Army would offer treatment to the civilians in its medical facilities, wherever possible, and would even get in touch with the top leadership of the states to understand their requirements.

India is struggling with a second wave of the coronavirus infection and hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The country recorded a single-day rise of 3.32 lakh coronavirus cases and 2,263 fatalities, according to official data released on Friday.

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