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North Bengal: Astronomy outfit gifts remote hubs Covid aid

The Sky Watchers’ Association has taken the initiative to develop independent networks in three different regions, the Terai, the Dooars and the Sunderbans
SWAN members with the medical gadgets in Siliguri

Avijit Sinha   |   Siliguri   |   Published 18.09.21, 01:46 AM

An organisation in north Bengal primarily engaged in amateur astronomy and promotion of science will provide Covid-19 patients in some remote parts of the state with sophisticated medical equipment that it received as a grant from Italy.

The Sky Watchers’ Association of North Bengal (SWAN) has taken the initiative to develop independent networks in three different regions of the state, the Terai, the Dooars and the Sunderbans.


Here, groups headed by coordinators will volunteer and provide for free services of gadgets such as oxygen concentrators and CPAP machines to Covid-19 patients.

“We are calling it the Covid Third Wave Preparedness Network or CWPN to help people in deep interiors of the Dooars, the Terai and the Sunderbans. The idea is to ensure they have access to basic critical care,” said Debasis Sarkar, founder secretary, SWAN, an affiliated networked institute of ISRO and recognised by the NASA Afterschool Universe.

Sources in SWAN said before the initiative, they studied activities of around 30 organisations and few rural health centres  in remote areas.

“We will hand over the equipment at their doorstep and train them on their use and maintenance. They will be monitored by dedicated coordinators of SWAN to confirm the equioment are being used at their optimum capacity at critical time of need,” Sarkar added.

He said even if there is no third wave of the pandemic, these gadgets will empower people of far-flung areas. “Coordinators will prepare a database on the usage which can help researchers in future too,” he added.

Around three months back, SWAN qualified for a grant from PRO-VIDA of Italy under its philanthropic initiative plan. “Initially, we were offered cash of around Rs 1 crore. But keeping in mind our infrastructure, we scaled it down and asked for a grant of Rs 40 lakh in the form of  equipment,” a source said.

“They approved it and we could get sophisticated equipment made by reputed international companies. This, we believe, is the largest non-government grant received by anybody in north Bengal,” the source. added

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