Police deploy pilot cars to escort new VIPs in town

Kolkata: The Covid vaccine, believed to be the weapon against the novel coronavirus, matched the stature of VIPs as its cavalcade travelled across the city on Thursday. Usually, 20 to 22 pilot cars are requisitioned from the police department for VIP movement in Kolkata. With the election ahead, the number at times climbs up to 30. But on Thursday, there was an additional request for seven more pilot cars, four of which were used to escort 93,500 doses of Covid-19 shots from Central Family Welfare Stores in Bagbazar to government hospitals—SSKM, NRS, MCH, RG Kar, CNMCH and Chittaranjan Seva Sadan —across the city. Senior cops, who relied on the pilot cars to execute the distribution seamlessly, said they could not remember another such instance, where escort vehicles were used for dissemination of vaccines. “Right now, the importance of the vaccine is no less than that of a VIP,” an IPS officer said.“Important dignitaries, like the governor and senior politicians and administrative heads are always provided with two to three pilot cars every day. The same number of cars are also requisitioned for those with high-threat perception, whose security requirements were recently reassessed,” said an official. “With around 70 sergeants, an equal number of drivers, reserve force personnel and commandos deployed for the security of VVIPs, the pilot car team is huge. This is one assignment, no one complained about. We had several drivers volunteering for the job on Thursday,” said an officer from the wireless section.“We have the experience of creating green channels through which we have carried organs within and outside the city, on outskirts or from the airport before transplants. But rarely have we used so many pilot cars at so many varied points across the city, connecting one hospital after another. With the exercise now set to become a long-drawn process to be repeated several times over the next few months, we have ensured that enough patrol cars are at our disposal. Friday, too, is going to be another hectic day, when we will make the distribution to newer addresses. The pilot cars will be at our disposal for the next few weeks, whenever needed,” said a senior officer from the welfare cell, the nodal police agency handling immunization process in the city. “Thursday needed maximum coordination as the distribution was within the city. We are happy it was executed as planned,” said an officer. The government hospitals in the city have been setting up immunization sites on their premises were beneficiaries will get their first shot. Among those who will receive the dose on Saturday are doctors and paramedic staff associated with the Kolkata Police Hospital, the nodal of which will be at SSKM Hospital. Also on the list are healthcare staff of SSKM, PG Polyclinic, Institute of Psychiatry, Bangur Institute of Neurology and Ramrikdas Haralalka Hospital. “We have delivered around half the required doses to SSKM. The entire process will take around 15 days. Hence, these pilot cars will be back here yet again,” said a police driver of one of the pilot cars.

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