The Bhandara district police in Maharashtra with the help of its tailors decided to manufacture masks themselves for their 1,600 employees after they were asked to wait for a week for the delivery of protective face masks.
In the last four days, four women and two men have been working 12 hours at the tailoring class in the local police training school. By the time the consignment of vital supplies from the state government finally arrived on March 23, they had stitched around 2,000 masks.
"We have a force of close to 1,600 people and our plan is that every employee should have two masks, with one spare at all times," The Indian Express quoted Aniket Bharti, Additional Superintendent of Police, Bhandara, as saying.
For the last 35 years, Pushpa Uke has been training policewomen to sew at the police headquarters in Bhandara. Her class aimed at producing police uniforms and training wives of policemen was shut down earlier like other establishments nationwide amid coronavirus fears. Uke was now given this herculean task to provide masks to the police force.
When it became apparent that the 'work from home' option did not apply to the police department, Uke went shopping for 100 hundred meters of green cotton and several meters from elastic bands.
The supplies were sourced locally and just before the markets shut down. Producing in-house entailed that apart from working through the delay, the department has incurred a fraction of the cost it would have in purchasing wholesale.
Under Uke's direction, three policewomen and two policemen have cut, sewn and spun at a rate of nearly 500 masks a day. Of her industrial undertaking, Uke said that once strips of cloth and elastic are cut to the right size, she and her colleagues need only five minutes to complete one mask.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Rajesh Wasnik, is in charge of delivering the masks. According to him, work begins at 7 am and ends at 8 pm, with an hour in between for lunch.
"We know how important it is for our colleagues working on the field to be properly protected while carrying out their duty," he added.
A kit comprising two masks, a pair of gloves and a bottle of hand sanitizer, has been delivered to each of the district's 17 police stations, offices of the four sub-divisional police officers and branches like traffic, crime branch and motor transport among others.
"Our masks can be easily washed and dry overnight. We have taken care to ensure that they of the highest quality and last longer," Wasnik added.
The safety gear, said Bharti, would give his force a sense of confidence while patrolling, monitoring traffic, and carrying out legal procedures at hospitals.
"Those of our men and women who come directly in contact with the public are worried about their safety. They are aware that police personnel are especially vulnerable. We are ensuring that they work in safe conditions," he added.
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