Govt forms 11 ‘empowered groups’ to manage Covid-19 challenges

Govt forms 11 ‘empowered groups’ to manage Covid-19 challenges
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30 Mar, 2020

The Ministry of Home Affairs has formed 11 “empowered groups” to manage the Covid-19 situation and the subsequent lockdown across the country, it announced on Sunday.

The groups, which consist of officers across departments, were formed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, by home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, a release from the ministry said.

The groups will be in charge of medical emergency management plans; facilitate supply chain and logistics management for essential goods; take economic and welfare measures; ensure medical equipment is available where needed; and deal with strategic issues related to the lockdown, it said. They will also ensure the availability of hospitals, isolation and quarantine facilities, as well as testing and critical care facilities, it added. 

The groups aim to identify problem areas and delineate policy to implement strategies in a time-bound manner, the release said. They will also look into the procurement directions issued by the department of expenditure from the Ministry of Finance on Friday, and make recommendations to the concerned ministries and departments, it said.

The formation of the empowered groups comes four days after prime minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19. Multiple sectors, including the supply chains of on-demand grocery and medicine companies, were affected due to the lockdown. The home ministry then issued a standard operating procedure for law enforcement agencies to ensure smooth supply of essential goods.