As the Indian Army has stepped up to fight against COVID, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh on Friday invoked special provisions and granted emergency financial power to the armed forces, empowering them to speed up their efforts to fight the Coronavirus.

These emergency powers have been granted to the armed forces initially for three months from May 1 to July 31. Additional emergency powers have already been given to the Medical Officers of the armed forces to fight the COVID.

These powers will help formation commanders to establish and operate quarantine facilities/hospitals and undertake procurement/repair of equipment, besides provisioning of various services and works required to support the ongoing effort against the pandemic.

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On April 26, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat had briefed Prime Minister, Narendra Modi about the preparations and operations being undertaken by the Armed Forces to deal with the pandemic.

It was informed that to help the civil administration in the fight against Corona, all medical personnel from the armed forces, who have retired or taken pre-mature retirement in the last two years, are being recalled to work in COVID facilities within proximity of their present place of residence.

General Rawat had informed that apart from recalling those who have been retired in the last two years, other medical officers who retired earlier have also been requested to make their services available for consultation through medical emergency helplines.

Indian Army Tour of Duty
Indian Army's "Tour of Duty" scheme is meant to allow civilians to join the force for a period of three years.Representational Image/IANS

How emergency financial powers empower armed forces

Under these powers, vice chiefs of armed forces including Chief Of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs Of Staff Committee (CISC) and General Officer Commanding-in-Chiefs (GOC-in-Cs) and equivalents of all three services have been given full powers, whereas Corps Commanders/Area Commanders have been delegated powers up to Rs 50 lakh per case and Division Commanders/Sub Area Commanders and equivalents have been delegated powers up to Rs 20 lakh per case.

The emergency powers were sanctioned to the Armed Forces last year too when the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out. This had helped the Armed Forces tackle the situation faster and in an effective manner.

Emergency financial powers already granted to AFMS

On April 23, the Ministry of Defence has already sanctioned emergency financial powers to the Armed Forces Medical Service (AFMS) to tackle the surge in COVID cases.

As per these powers, an amount of Rs 3 crore will be made available to a Major General equivalent and another Rs 2 crore to a brigadier equivalent officer of the AFMS to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, according to the government order.