The Union defence ministry on Friday granted emergency financial powers to the country’s armed forces in order to augment their efforts against the coronavirus pandemic. The powers will allow the armed forces to establish and operate quarantine facilities and hospitals, an official release from the ministry stated. Besides, it will also help them operate facilities, procure equipment and resources, and perform any required urgent tasks.

The armed forces will be able to perform all these operations without the usual clearances, NDTV reported. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced the decision via a tweet.

Under the new provision, vice chiefs of the three services have been given full powers, while corps commanders and area commanders have been delegated powers up to Rs 50 lakh per case, the defence ministry said. Division and sub area commanders have been delegated powers up to Rs 20 lakh per case.

The powers will stay in effect for a period of three months from May 1 to July 31.

“The emergency powers were sanctioned to the Armed Forces last year too when the Covid-19 pandemic first broke out,” the ministry release noted. “This had helped the armed forces tackle the situation faster and in an effective manner.”

The decision came as India struggles to keep up with the rising demand of medical oxygen. The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented rise in the demand for beds, ventilators, oxygen supplies and drugs as hospitals struggle to hold together the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

On Friday, India registered 3,86,452 coronavirus cases, pushing the overall count of infections to 1,87,62,976 since the pandemic first broke out in India in January 2020. This is the highest ever single-day rise in cases reported by any country so far, and the ninth consecutive day when India has recorded more than 3 lakh cases. With 3,498 deaths, the toll climbed to 2,08,330.

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