IRTS officers help deliver medicines amid lockdown

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Abhishek Dasgupta, a resident of Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur, a kidney transplant patient, made an appeal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office on Twitter requesting for help to get the medicines from Gujarat.

Dasgupta took to Twitter on April 11 and wrote that he was a kidney transplant patient. “I am unable to get my transplant medicines (Cellcept 500mg and Tacrograf 1 mg and 0.5 mg) from Ahmedabad amidst lockdown. These medicines are very important for me. Kindly help.”

Dasgupta tagged PMO and Narendra Modi in his tweets. On April 18, the IRTS SETU contacted Dasgupta and asked him to share the details with them. And within three days, the medicines were delivered to him in Jamshedpur from Ahmedabad.

After getting the delivery of the medicines, Dasgupta wrote, “Dear IRTS SETU Team, it was a great pleasure to know you guys. Thank you for your prompt response. I was in touch with Trinetra Kumar who helped me in resolving my issue. Thank you so much for your prompt response and eagerness to help during this lockdown period. God bless you.”

Similarly, medicines for Shirisha Siri’s mother residing in Goa’s Madgaon was transported from Guntakal district in Andhra Pradesh within 40 hours after the request was made on Twitter.

“From Guntakal-Ballary-Torangal-Hubli-Castle Rock to Madgaon! The medicines for Shirisha Sirias made a 40-hour journey to reach her. Respect and gratitude to our officers Devyani Halake, AOM UBL and J. Vijay Krishna, AOM Guntakal,” IRTS SETU said in a tweet after delivering the medicine.

Soon after the medicine was delivered to Sirisha’s mother in Goa, she also took to Twitter and thanked the IRTS, “Thanks a ton IRTS SETU for helping me get medicines for my mother from Andhra Pradesh to Goa. Special mention to Shubham Jain IRTS and J. Vijaya Krishna AOM Guntakal Division, who coordinated well and gave me updates till the medicines reaches us. Very grateful to the whole team.”

Speaking to IANS, Srikant Mallela, one of the brains behind the initiative said, “We started the IRTS Helpline as a platform to facilitate movement of goods during the lockdown.”

He said as the ongoing nationwide lockdown has disrupted the supply chains across the country, the objective of this helpline is to facilitate movement of goods through Indian Railways’ special parcel trains, from any station to any station.

He said that they also launched its IRTS SETU Twitter account to assist the people facing issues in getting their medicines, raw materials for their industries and other essential items during the lockdown.

“And now its role has evolved in last 10-11 days, as we have received more than 1,500 calls and requests through social media platform,” he said.

He said that there are over 30 probationary officers, who are currently undergoing training at Udaipur and Vadodara, working round the clock to ensure that help reached to people. He said that the entire IRTS fraternity across the country have rallied behind them to extend all possible support.

Mallela further said that the team of the IRTS officers are facilitating the movement of not just large consignment of raw material for making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face masks, but also grocery, milk and other essentials at peoples’ doorstep as they remain restricted at home due to the lockdown.

“Now, we take calls (from people in distress) and use the railway network to ensure that the goods (they critically need) reaches them. We are responding to critical calls and informing the local authorities about the situation.”

Speaking about the reason to come up with such an initiative, Mallela said, “During the lockdown, a common man cannot navigate through the maze of modes and thousands of bureaucracy and contact a number of offices to move his goods.

“Thus SETU, a Unified Helpline and Twitter handle was set up to facilitate the movement of goods using all available modes of transport,” he said.

The IRTS officer said that one only needs to call on the helpline and SETU will work out the movement as it acts as an information bridge without transgressing any rules and regulations in force during the lockdown.

“The team gathers the requirements and passes to the appropriate authority, who could immediately act on that information. SETU has gone beyond Railways and collaborated with NDRF, District Administration, Institutional Bodies and even startups to ensure last mile connectivity,” Mallela said.

He further said that the team of the IRTS officers have helped in facilitating the movement of critical medicines to several individuals and in bulk, lakhs of masks/PPEs, ventilators, raw material and finished goods, farm produce, fertilizers and other essentials after the April 20 relaxations in the lockdown norms.

He said that his team has been able to transport PPEs made in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur to a hospital in Andhra Pradesh which reported a shortage of the critical item.

Similarly we have delivered drugs from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi, and coordinated with the National Pharmaceutical Association to carry ventilators and masks.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at