The threat of novel coronavirus has cast a shadow on flight testing of at least two missiles that have been jointly developed by India in collaboration with Russia and Israel.
Defence sources said the missiles were scheduled to be test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha coast. With India restricting travellers from foreign countries, scientists from Israel and Russia had to stay back in their respective countries leading to deferment of both the tests till the situation normalises.
One of the most happening laboratories of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the ITR has four launching complexes at Chandipur and Abdul Kalam Island. Apart from ITR, the DRDO has one more unit, Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) at Chandipur. Though activities have not been hampered, restrictions have been imposed on movement of staff in groups.
“As the foreign scientists and technical staff remain present during test of missiles developed as joint ventures, the tests have been postponed. However, the trials of indigenously developed missiles will be conduced as scheduled,” the sources informed.
The ITR and PXE have issued a set of guidelines for their scientists and other staff on prevention of coronavirus infection. As part of precautionary measures, bio-metric attendance has been stopped and priority is being given on complete sanitisation of surfaces frequently used by staff.
ITR Director BK Das said a 20-point charter has been prepared by a high-level committee headed by a senior scientist for management of different on-going projects. “Meetings and discussions are being done through video-conferencing. All negotiations on finalisation of tenders will be done through skype,” he said.
The ITR chief has also decided to shut down the canteen store department, where employees gather to buy groceries and other essentials, from Friday till March 31. A squad has been formed to ensure that the staff are using all protective gears inside the lab.
“Since ours is one of the biggest labs in the world, we can not shut it down completely. But we have cancelled non-essential training and conferences. Employees have been directed to avoid public transport. In case of any issue, they can take leave and stay back at home,” he added.
Bio-metric attendance has been stopped
Priority is being given on complete sanitisation of surfaces
A 20-point charter has been prepared for management of different on-going projects
Meetings and discussions are being done through video-conferencing
A squad has been formed to ensure that the staff are using all protective gears inside lab