COVID-19: DRDO, ITI to team up to manufacture portable ventilators

DRDO and ITI Limited are likely to ink a deal soon to produce portable ventilators to cater to medical needs arising out of the Corona crisis
COVID-19: DRDO, ITI to team up to manufacture portable ventilators

Bengaluru: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Telephone Industries Limited (ITI Limited) are likely to ink a deal soon to produce portable ventilators, a first of its kind in India. The news assumes significance as India is struggling to battle the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. "DRDO wants ITI Limited to manufacture portable ventilators and is transferring technology to us. Once, we come up with a final product and after due test procedures, we shall be able to produce such ventilators,"

ITI Limited's Chairman & Managing Director Rakesh Mohan Agarwal said. In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, medical experts say that India would require several thousand ventilators and its absence may impair the country's healthcare system to respond to rising epidemic cases. With a population of 1.33 billion, India has nearly 50,000 ventilators. Agarwal said that ITI Limited is well poised to fast-track the production amid the present COVID-19 situation, and have plans to undertake manufacturing in its Bengaluru facility. "Once we come up with the product prototype, ITI will be able to produce portable ventilators within the next 30 to 60 days", the top official said and added that the apparent challenge would be on the component sourcing front.

The state-controlled telecom technology company is signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with DRDO this week. "The only thing that worries us is component sourcing. We will require components locally as well as from other countries which appears to be a cumbersome task during the current lockdown," he added. Since March 24, India is under a 21-day lockdown to prevent community transmission of novel Coronavirus that has so far killed 150 individuals with nearly 6,000 confirmed infection cases. Agarwal further said that portable ventilators could not be used merely in the present COVID-19 crisis but would be required in the future by the army and paramilitary forces and defence hospitals. Meanwhile, taking a cue from carmakers worldwide, Mahindra Group, Maruti Suzuki India, and Hyundai Motor Company have expressed their keenness to manufacture ventilators locally amid the Coronavius pandemic.

ITI Limited is a state-owned electronics product manufacturer under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that produces radio modems, optical networks, smart metres, and Wi-Fi access points, with the defence sector contributing to a third or nearly 35 percent of its overall revenue. With a strong order book worth about Rs 20,000 crore, the company is expecting to continue with a growth momentum of nearly 35 percent. In Q3, 2019, the public sector firm posted a turnover of Rs 979 crore, up 53 percent over the same quarter last year.

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