Corona Virus (Covid-19) originated in Wuhan, China, spread rapidly around the globe and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. For India, being a second highest populated country, it was a mammoth task to control and protect the population from this deadly virus. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) under the leadership of S S Deswal, DG ITBP took a lead to tackle this unprecedented health threat to the citizens of the country. Efforts during this pandemic by ITBP have been extraordinarily managed by its officials in an exclusive manner. It’s a saga of courage, dedication and devotion towards the fight against Covid-19 spread in a country of 135 crores citizens which has been a never before experience for the present and future generations.
ITBP catered and established three Covid Care facility centers; First - Quarantine Centre at ITBP Chhawla in Delhi camp (28 January, 2020), Second - Referral Hospital, Greater Noida (1 May, 2020) and Third- Sardar Patel Covid Care Center (SPCCC) and Hospital at Chhatarpur, New Delhi.
. Quarantine Centre at ITBP Chhawla Camp:
The Government of India took a decision to establish the first ever quarantine facility at the ITBP Chhawla camp, New Delhi for those who were evacuated from Wuhan, China in January-February, 2020. The Force had established India’s biggest quarantine facility of 1,000 bed capacity with its own resources on 28th January, 2020. The DG ITBP personally monitored the entire preparations and the centre was made functional in just 48 hours.
Groups at ITBP Quarantine Centre
Till February, 2021 total no. 7,172 passengers and force personnel were treated and quarantined so far. Also, ITBP successfully quarantined 64 foreign nationals including people from 7 friendly nations including Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Maldives, US, South Africa and Madagascar.
Initially ITBP evacuated and incorporated various passengers coming from various countries. These were as follows:
1st batch- 103 people evacuated from Wuhan, China on 1st February, 2020.
2nd batch- 112 people evacuated from Wuhan, China on 27 February, 2020.
3rd batch- 21 Italians and 3 Indians were taken to the facility on 3-4 March, 2020.
4th batch- 218 people evacuated from Milan, Italy on 15 March, 2020.
5th batch- 263 people evacuated from Rome, Italy on 27 February, 2020.
6th batch- 87 MEA diplomats evacuated from Afghanistan from 30 March to 7 April, 2020.
The ITBP has made all efforts and established a benchmark in terms of an ideal Quarantine Centre. It has arranged the stay of women, children and families also. The Force has tried to educate itself and maintained the protocols at the office and residential premises. It has boosted the self confidence of the force personnel to deal with the pandemic. DG Deshwal, ITBP himself reached out to the centre from time to time to boost the morale of the staff working round the clock at the facility.
Details at Quarantine Centre, Chhawla camp ITBP till Feb10,2021
Total No. of Passengers and force personnel quarantined
Total No. of Foreigners
(Efforts during complete lockdown and dedicating the Referral Hospital, Greater Noida and other ITBP Hospitals across the country for treatment of Covid-19 infected Central Armed Police Forces’ (CAPFs) and Central Police Organisations (CPOs) personnel and their family members, creating own fabrication capabilities of preparing face masks and PPE kits)
During the times of lock down and duties afterwards, lots of police personnel of various forces got infected while performing law and order duties in the internal security and containment areas. The Delhi-NCR region Covid19 Hospitals were already under tremendous pressure from the civil population being treated there. It was the high time when the ITBP dedicated its ITBP Referral Hospital, Greater Noida for infected personnel of CAPFs and Assam Rifles, CPOs, retired personnel, and all family members for theirs.
ITBP Referral hospital at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh
ITBP Referral hospital is a Secondary care hospital established for Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in 2015. It is a 200 bedded hospital located in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Retired Force personnel were admitted for specialized care during pandemic. First lot of covid patients came to hospital on 02/05/2020.The Hospital has treated and discharged more than 1950 Covid patients till 10/02/2021.
Fabrication of PPE kit and Face Masks
Due to the swift rise in corona virus cases throughout the country, the nation was in great need of PPE Kits and Masks for HCWs and FLW (Front line Workers). In that scenario, ITBP exhausted its resources and set up a special facility at its SS battalion camp at Saboli, Sonipat district in Haryana to prepare fabricated personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks for the use of its troops and for other organizations battling the pandemic on ground.
ITBP handed over the PPE kits and face masks to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Also, some Delhi based schools and Haryana based NGOs were also given the PPE kits and face masks for free. These protection gears are meant for frontline workers of police, paramilitary forces and healthcare workers, but not for the doctors who were treating the COVID-19 affected patients. Same was approved by the specialists of AIIMS.
Himveer Wives Welfare Association (HWWA) which has been working for the welfare of ITBP families and children has also taken initiative and joined hands in making PPE kit and face masks. HWWA Ladies members also collaborated and helped in stitching of PPE Kit and Masks.
Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre (SPCCC)
Due to rapidly increasing covid-19 cases large facilities to accommodate mild to symptomatic patients were required. On 23rd June, the Government of India assigned Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force to urgently commission the 10000 bed CCC named as Sardar Patel Covid-19 Care Center (SPCCC). Sh S S Deswal, DG ITBP along with the senior officials of the Force visited the facility many times and laid the foundation of this mammoth covid care facility of the country.
Summary of patients from 5 July, 2020 to 22 February, 2021 at Sardar Patel CCC:
Total admissions- 12,057 (Including approx 100 foreigners)
Discharge after treatment- 11657
Second wave of Covid
The second wave of Covid19 in the country was rapidly increasing into a big disaster as this time, the mortality rate was also high and many patients were needed oxygen support. It was again a challenging time when the entire health infrastructure was in a huge demand of oxygen beds and life saving medicines. ITBP once again proactively formulated its covid management strategies and under the guidance of Sh SS Deswal, DG ITBP, took many steps to contain the situation and help the health care system to fight with the second wave of Covid19 in the country.
ITBP Chhawla Camp Covid Care Centre,
On 14 April, 2021, the Chhawla camp was started functioning as a major covid care arrangement for ITBP in New Delhi. It catered for 50 beds initially with some oxygen beds also available if needed. The serving and retired ITBP personnel, their family members and persons from other CAPFs, CPOs and other sister organizations are being treated at this covid care facility.
Till 9 May, 2021 this centre has admitted 147 covid19 patients out of which 75 were discharged after treatment.
At present, 59 patients have been admitted to this centre and their treatment is on.
ITBP Referral Hospital, Greater Noida:
During the second wave of Covid19 in the country, the ITBP Referral Hospital served the Covid patients in a more dedicated manner. The Hospital once again started functioning as a Covid Care Hospital from 16 April, 2021. The serving and retired ITBP personnel, their family members and persons from other CAPFs, CPOs and other sister organizations are being treated at this covid care facility with best possible treatment.
Till 9.05.21, the total patients count at the Referral Hospital was as under:-
Total patients admitted -375
Total patients discharged -243
Total pts in ward on 9 May, 2021 -93
Seeing the need of uninterrupted oxygen supply, Sh S S Deswal, DG ITBP wrote to the authorities to install a dedicated oxygen plant at the ITBP Referral Hospital. Within days, an oxygen plant was installed at this Hospital on 6 May, 2021 with the help of Italy. Italian Ambassador to India Vincenzo de Luca switched on this oxygen plant. The plant will supply oxygen to more than 100 beds at a time to the Covid19 patients admitted at the centre.
500 oxygen bedded Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre , Chhatarpur, New Delhi
As the Covid19 infections were surging in the national capital, , the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) designated ITBP as nodal agency for operations of 500 oxygenated beds for Covid19 patients at SPCCC, Radha Soami Beas, Chhatarpur, New Delhi on 22 April, 2021. The Force provided the services of Doctors, Paramedical, Nursing staff and Stress Counsellors for the management of the facility in association with the District Administration of South Delhi District.
Sh S S Deswal, DG ITBP personally saw the arrangements on 25 April, 2021 by visiting the facility and guided the staff to serve at the facility. The Force started the functioning of the centre on 26 April, 2021. Necessary guidelines, process of registration, admission, treatment and other requirements were accordingly issued.
SOP was strictly followed in the admission of patients.
Patients after reporting at the reception and after initial documentation, their physical examination is being done, they would then be admitted to the Hospital at their allotted bed. A kit is being provided to them after their admission.
All medical treatment, medicines, food and other facilities are provided free of cost.
Services of stress counselors of ITBP are also being provided.
Till 10/5/2021, the Sardar Patel CCC, Chhatarpur New Delhi has following summary:
Total admissions- 1037
Beds occupied- 376
This centre is proved to be a great relief to the Delhi Covid19 patient care management which is providing uninterrupted oxygen to the patients and treating them with all possible medical aid.
All these 500 beds can provide uninterrupted oxygen to the patients round the clock.
Learning is still on:
ITBP played a vital role in fighting against the Covid-19 spread in the country. Establishment of different centers and capacity building measures were extremely challenging and unprecedented tasks when the whole world was simultaneously fighting against the deadly virus.
There were no references, standard operating procedures or directions upon which a response in such a scenario could be made. A lot of deliberations, learning from trial and error, experimentations, initiatives and confidence building activities were undertaken by the ITBP to manifest certain strong protocols and procedures which were later proved as the milestones for tackling such a situation for a prolonged period of more than one year.
Not just above mentioned initiatives, the ITBP field formations had also stepped up to help the entire system in these tough times.
During the complete lockdown, the ITBP units provided medical facilities and food to people residing in far flung areas/ border areas and naxal affected areas. The ITBP ensured a safe passage for over 900 trucks carrying essential supplies from the icy heights of Zoji La to the frozen slopes of Kargil in 2020. The DG ITBP wrote open letters to the veterans and family members of the Force and asked them for any help if they need in the times of lockdown and in case some of them are having difficulty in getting treatment if they are infected with the corona virus.
ITBP remained active in providing correct information to all concerned especially through its media network. Two songs were dedicated by the ITBP jawans during the peak of the virus spread reflecting the selfless and devoted services by the force and healthcare workers which went viral at almost all media platforms. It was a great confidence building measure among the masses to see how government machinery is fighting the pandemic at every developing stage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) included a picture in its 2021 calendar showcasing the world’s largest covid care centre and hospital, Radha Soami Beas, New Delhi. The WHO also included the role of ITBP in running the world’s largest covid care facility (Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre and Hospital, Radha Soami Beas, Chhatarpur, New Delhi) in their special film on the covid response. The exposure and experience of the ITBP in the entire Covid-19 management system in the country is unparalleled in view of its success and overall achievement.
As soon as the vaccination program in the country was launched in the country, the ITBP personnel as the Health Care Workers and the Front Line Workers stated being inoculated with the vaccine. A well laid down system of vaccination and its online record keeping system has been created by the Force.
With guided response system of Sh SS Deswal, DG ITBP and the Force HQrs, till 7 May, 2020, 96.20% Front Line Workers have received the first dose of vaccine while 78.48% have received the second dose of vaccine.
Similarly, 92% Health Care Workers have received the first dose of vaccine while 76% have received the second dose of vaccine till date.
Very soon, 100% vaccination target will be achieved by the ITBP.
Sports and training activities in ITBP promoted with high motivation
Games in the security forces by virtue of various inherent reasons are usually and mostly played in the groups and require a lot of motivation, coaching, practice and preparation which necessitate human to human involvement. This perception was however transformed into a ‘new normal’ by involving and keeping Covid-19 protocols and procedures.
Even in such a scenario, the ITBP has been in a buzz for more than a year since January, 2020 till now for its contribution towards support to the government in Covid-19 counter measures. Though the Force faced many challenges within due to various challenging circumstances emerging due to the pandemic, it served the countrymen in the most challenging conditions by contributing to various corona related response mechanisms.
The challenges due to different standard restrictions etc as explained as ‘new normal’ in terms of guidelines for preventing spread of Covid-19 pandemic did not deter the determination of Himveers of ITBP specially in the field of sports. The force has over the past few months won laurels from the field of sports which reflects the high morale, motivation, inspiration and dedication of the players.
The ITBP sportsmen have excelled in the field of sports. ITBP has been greatly known for its excellence in adventure sports. Crest of the Force epitomizes the Force motto- Shaurya, Dridhata, Karmanishtha. Adventure and dare-devilry are the required professional skills for the ITBP and therefore from its ranks come the world class mountaineers who have scaled many Himalayan peaks.
The ITBP won 1 Gold medal at International Championship, 6 Gold, 6 Silver and 5 Bronze medals in National Championships, 2 Gold and 3 Silver in Khelo India while 3 Silver at various Ice Hockey championships. Out of these 26 medals, 17 have been won by women personnel of the ITBP.
Since most of the sports activities were halted or postponed due to pandemic, the ITBP sportsmen by virtue of hard work and determination have been able to spread the message of camaraderie, sportsmanship and excellence which truly reflect the resilience and fighting spirit of Himveers of the force.
ITBP is well known for its highly acknowledged sports capabilities and it has once again proved its mettle in the field of sports in the challenging covid era by claiming many medals at designated levels.
Fit India motivation to fight ‘Covid19’
A latest research suggest that carrying even a little extra weight raises the risk of developing a severe form of Covid-19, especially in younger adults, according to a new study.The DG ITBP himself leading from the front has inspired many citizens and force personnel to remain fit and healthy. He has undertaken dozens of long route and speed marches in the Himalayas and on seaside areas of the country. The earlier routes include Lipulekh Pass, Sangla Valley of 103 Kms, Auli Tapovan, Gangotri Tapovan, Bhuj, Konark-Puri, Rajasthan and Punjab Borders, Mission 100 Kilometers in Jodhpur-Bikaner and Valley of flowers besides many other routes. These marches were aimed at spreading the ‘Fit India’ mission and to promote the youth to engage in more physical exercises to remain fit. Plogging and swachhta campaigns also done in between. ‘Fit India-Mission 200 KM’ in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan in October-November, 2021 was a landmark in Fit India campaign in the country.All the field formations of the ITBP are strictly implementing the fitness programs and it is helping the force in the fight against the Covid19.