As the second wave of COVID is still continuing to wreak havoc in India, many countries have come forward to help in COVID relief work.
India's 'Mission Oxygen' with Singapore began just with a three-sentence text message between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on April 22. The SMS was followed by a telephone call between the two ministers as Jaishankar asked for medical oxygen from Singapore.
The Indian foreign minister asked Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to call in the Indian Air Force's (IAF) heavy transporters to pick the first four cryogenic tanks from Singapore to be delivered to the worst-hit states in India, reported Hindustan Times Singh contacted Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria for the transporters.
Air Chief Bhadauria worked through the plan to expedite the external and internal movement of transport planes.
The entire transport fleet of IAF was placed on standby for 24 hours. Multiple sets of pilots began 'Mission Oxygen' with a C-17 picking up four cryogenic containers from Changi Airport in Singapore and reaching the transport hub of Panagarh in West Bengal.
The cryogenic tanks picked up oxygen from several steel plants on the road and deployed Railway flat wagons to reach their destinations.
While industrial units largely produce oxygen in large quantities in India, there is a global shortage of specialised cryogenic tanks that is needed to transport liquid oxygen.
At this crucial hour, Singapore has come to aid by acting as a logistics hub for crucial medical items that India requires. Earlier in 2021, India had supplied critical items like hydroxy-chloroquinine, surgical masks, hand sanitizers and polypropylene material to Singapore.
However, as the second wave hits India and it is still battling to bring the situation in control, India procured 46 cryogenic or ISO containers from Singapore to enhance the liquid oxygen supplies to various parts of the country.
Apart from this, India has procured thousands of oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, BiPAP machines/ventilators and other necessary items from Singapore.
Singapore also sent two of its own Air Force aircraft on April 28 carrying oxygen cylinders and other material.
With the support of IAF, Indian Navy played a major role in evacuating medical supplies from Singapore by sending warfare ship INS Airawat to Singapore.
The ship was in Singapore from May 2 to May 4 and it loaded nearly 5,000 oxygen cylinders of various capacities, eight ISO/cryogenic tanks, oxygen concentrators and even rapid antigen kits for supplies to India.
According to further plans, landing warship INS Jalashwa is reaching Singapore bay on May 15 for loading 15 filled cryogenic containers and about 5,000 oxygen cylinders for India to meet the expected rise in demand in the country.
In times of dire healthcare crisis. Singapore, which is driven by an active bilateral engagement, has turned out to be a critical lifeline to India