New Delhi: The German armed forces are working around the clock to help India tackle the coronavirus crisis, Walter J. Lindner, the country’s ambassador to India, has said.
In an interview to ThePrint, Lindner added that Berlin is preparing a comprehensive support package to enable India to tide over the ongoing Covid surge, which has been marked by reports of medical oxygen shortage for patients.
It is not just the German government and armed forces, but also the country’s companies operating in India that are coming forward to help, he said.
“We are currently preparing a comprehensive support package in an inter-agency effort of German ministries, the German Army and other institutions. We are working relentlessly in cooperation with our Indian partners and friends to act quickly in support of the citizens of India,” he added.
The German Army, Lindner said, is currently preparing a large mobile oxygen plant that can provide oxygen to “hundreds of Covid patients in India”.
“We are in close contact with Indian government and Indian Red Cross to finalise details in order to greenlight deployment. Transport options will be cleared at the earliest… We should not underestimate the active endeavours German companies in India have already brought underway and will continue to do so,” he said. “We are working relentlessly in cooperation with our Indian partners and friends to act quickly in support of the citizens of India.”
Lindner said Covid has created a “very difficult situation” in India, adding that the “tragic scenes in front of hospitals, lack of oxygen show what this pandemic is capable of”.
“Germany is following with great sympathy and solidarity the evolving situation in India,” he said.
German industry chips in too
Apart from mobile oxygen production plants that will be made available to India for three months, Berlin is also sending to India 120 ventilators and more than 80 million KN95 masks (similar to N95 masks), Lindner said.
“The German Health ministry has earmarked over 100 to 180 ventilators for India. We are working out final details on how to quickly transport those,” he said.
A German company, he added, will “supply over 20 oxygen production plants to the Indian military”. “We are also hearing some plans of the Indian Air Force airlifting some of them into India to save time,” he added.
Along with the Tata Group, Linde India, a German company, is procuring 24 cryogenic containers to help with oxygen supply, he said, adding that the firm is also working with the Adani Group to deliver 80 Metric Tonnes of oxygen from Saudi Arabia to India.
Some other leading German firms such as Daimler Commercial Vehicles and Schwing GmbH will carry out vaccination campaigns for their workers, Lindner added. Bosch India, he said, has transformed their sports complex in Adugodi, Bengaluru, into a Covid facility.
“We have also been working on other kinds of support programmes for India since the pandemic began last year,” Lindner added.
Since the pandemic began last year, Germany has provided €500 million for social causes that will help the poor and marginal, and another €300 million for vaccine cold chains in India, he said.
Germany is itself currently battling a third Covid wave described as “aggressive”, with the country opening vaccinations for everyone by June at the latest to check the surge. Germany rolled out a new Infection Protection Act last week, under which new restrictions were put in place.
Since January last year, Germany has recorded nearly 33 lakh Covid cases and 81,624 deaths.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)