Frontline Warriors: ‘Silver Lining in dark times’

 India has been reeling under the second wave of covid pandemic. There is no denying in the fact that the second wave caught almost all of us unaware. With prayers on lips almost all the families longed to hear wellbeing of loved ones suffering from covid. April & May 2021 have been extremely tough as we saw people running frantically from pillar to post to find bed in hospitals and the unending ques at the cremation grounds which shook humanity to the core.

Amidist all this peril & sufferings we also witnessed responsible citizens serving humanity with compassion & the belief “Work is worship and duty is god”. There is no better way to worship God except to be hardworking & being true to yourself as well as to the cause.

There are few committed frontline warriors who are keeping the hopes of ailing alive, their hope of getting better with time, hope of re-uniting with their family members, rekindling the desire to live life afresh.

Lucknow saw record spike in the number of covid cases & this time the virus mutated in its most virulent forms causing unexpected deaths all over India & particularly in Lucknow. This sudden surge in covid cases led to a high demand of oxygen to save lives. The government of India & Indian railways decided to run oxygen express/Jeevan RakshakTrains to transport liquid medical oxygen & oxygen cylinders all across our country. The arrival of oxygen did unleash a new ray of hope for those who were suffering from this deadly & unpredictable disease. 

Railway yard for decanting.

The ten containers that reached by train on the 4th of May from Bokaro had almost 80 metric tons of oxygen which were supposed to be transferred to trucks & then distributed in oxygen parched hospitals of Lucknow & Kanpur. All of this sounds extremely simple however what happened in between the unloading & distribution of the elixir called oxygen became crucial & this is where Atul Singh Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer & role of his team members became crucial. As it was found that the attachment used to transfer the liquid oxygen were not suitable enough & hence, he & his team worked continuously for twelve hours to make a better attachment for the transfer of liquid oxygen so as to expedite the process of oxygen facilitation & distribution to DRDO hospital in Lucknow as well as other hospitals of the capital city.

Railway staff preparing Oxygen express for Loading.

Along with the Oxygen containers loaded on the wagons, steel pipes were sent which are supposed to have attachments on both the sides. The wagon containers as well as the truck containers were to be connected through theses steel pipes however the given steel pipe had only one attachment & in this case the transfer of oxygen became a big challenge as the time was limited & people affected with covid were fighting for their lives. For such people every second & every minute counted. Despite the lockdown & closed shops the required equipment was collected & assimilated together he & his team worked for twelve hours & with their presence of mind built the attachment for the smooth & quick transfer of oxygen thereby saving time & lives.

At a time when there is a huge uproar to reform bureaucracy, there are still sensitive men like Atul Singh, Senior DivisionalMechanical Engineer, Lucknow, working day & night, almost 24/7 with minimum resources to facilitate the distribution of oxygen which is an elixir for survival in this pandemic.

Atul Singh

Though I strongly feel that he is duty bound yet somehow, I believe that he made the best use of the given resources at his disposal when formal mechanisms of aid/help proved insufficient. He didn’t sit at home & complained about inefficiency of the system rather he took charge in the field and acted in the line of duty. 

He owes it to his team which is fair what is remarkable is that he took things head on & stood in the field supervising the smooth facilitation & unloading of oxygen which is an extremely technical & scientific work. Many times, taking thelead in cases of technical glitch through innovations like profiling the attachment required to unload 80 metric tons of oxygen while working 12 hours at one go! 

Oxygen express under loading.

He surely must be an angel for those unknown people suffering from covid & those in dire need of oxygen. Atul Singh comes as a fresh ray of hope in the otherwise ‘feudal bureaucracy/archaic/colonial’ bureaucracy.

He surely is a positive example in these testing times an inspiration for many for working in the line of fire or rather a hero who is more of a silver lining in these dark times! 

Nandini Priyadarshini

Research Scholar, Activist,

academic enthusiast.

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