GUWAHATI, April 1 - Indian Railways today said it is making an all-out effort to supplement the healthcare efforts of the government in view of the increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
�The steps include modification of passenger coaches as isolation coaches, equipping the existing railway hospitals to meet the COVID-19 needs, earmarking of hospital beds to meet the contingencies, recruitment of additional doctors and paramedics, besides providing food to needy people free of cost,� said Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
He said availability of certified medical practitioners is of immense importance in the present scenario. �Accordingly, the Railways authority has decided to engage doctors and paramedical staff from the open market at all hospitals for a period of three months as per local requirement in order to effectively contain this pandemic. This engagement will be over and above the present existing vacancies which are in various stages of filling up,� said Chanda.
NFR has already notified the vacancies through various print and social media. In addition, the Railways is also re-employing retired railway doctors.
Chanda said that NFR will be modifying 315 coaches by equipping them with basic facilities needed for isolation as per medical guidelines for placement in various locations.
�All these coaches will be made within next seven days on a war-footing at various workshops and depots located across all divisions of NFR. Altogether 20 coaches each will be modified at Katihar and New Jalpaiguri under Katihar, 25 coaches will be modified at Alipurduar Junction under Alipurduar Division, 30 coaches will be modified at Dibrugarh under Tinsukia Division, while 10 coaches will be modified at Agartala, 30 coaches at Silchar and 50 coaches each at Guwahati and Kamakhya will be modified under Lumding Division. Besides, another 50 coaches will be modified at the New Bongaigaon Railway Workshop, while 30 coaches will be modified at the Dibrugarh Railway Workshop,� he added.
�If needed, more coaches can be modified. All these coaches are going to be equipped with mosquito nets, charging points for mobiles and laptops, and space for paramedics and medical equipment. These facilities will be made available as mandated by the Government of India to those in need,� Chanda added.
Across the country Indian Railways has decided to convert 5,000 coaches as isolation wards.
The official added that NFR is also undertaking various humanitarian activities at a number of locations during the time of the pandemic.
�Yesterday, the Katihar Base Kitchen of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) provided 500 meals to needy people which were distributed by Railway Police Force (RPF) with the help of NGOs. At New Guwahati, IRCTC provided about 300 meals for distribution. RPF personnel, with the help of various NGOs, also provided more than 2,000 meals at places like New Bongaigaon, Azara, Kamakhya, Guwahati, New Guwahati, Silchar, New Tinsukia and Dibrugarh station areas. While delivering the food to needy persons, social distancing and hygiene is being strictly observed,� said the NFR CPRO.