'Covid disrupted training at MEG, Centre for 15 months'

Covid disrupted training at MEG and Centre for 15 months: Army official

The centre, which passes out about 1,500 trained sappers annually, saw a disruption in the number of trained personnel being supplied to the Indian Army last year

MEG recruit platoons at a rehearsal for the passing-out parade on Wednesday. Credit: DH Photo/B H Shivakumar

The Covid-19 outbreak disrupted training activities at the Madras Engineers Group (MEG) and Centre in the city for some 15 months, an army official said. 

The centre, which passes out about 1,500 trained sappers annually, saw a disruption in the number of trained personnel being supplied to the Indian Army last year. 

Brigadier T S Wadhawa, commandant of the centre, told DH that after Karnataka had recorded the several dozen Covid-19 cases by April and May 2020, the uncertainty over the novel coronavirus prompted a halting of many training activities by May last year. 

"All cumulative training activities ground to a halt. We also halted all activities to do with water, that is swimming and watermanship, and all centralised lectures,” Brigadier Wadhawa said. 

These translated to the halting of all major outdoor training activities to prevent the virus from circulating. 

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“Eventually the training regimen picked up with smaller sessions of 10-15 trainees working with one instructor. We resorted to training the cadets in the barracks themselves, whereas previously they were in classrooms. All troops had to mandatorily wear double-masks and face shields,” he added. 

The issue was prompted by concern about the potential spread of the virus through a densely populated base with a strength of between 7,000 and 8,000 troops and cadets at all times. 

Training levels only returned to pre-Covid levels in June and July 2021, after the army had realised the limitations of the disease and following the large-scale double-vaccinations of all troops and cadets. “The introduction of vaccinations helped restore confidence in the normal training programme once again,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a passing-out parade of 240 sappers on Wednesday. 

The parade was also the first since March 2020, which allowed external visitors. 

The MEG and Centre was among the first military bases in Bengaluru to create quarantine facilities. The MEG said that it had also created a Covid care centre for the city, plus another with 500 beds for soldiers and their families. 

241st found anniversary on Sept 30

The Madras Engineers Group (MEG) and Centre is celebrating its 241st founding anniversary on Thursday, also known as MEG Day. The day commemorates the raising of two companies of pioneers by British forces on September 30, 1780.  Officers said that while the day is usually an occasion for retired sappers and their families to mix at the centre, events this year will be more muted, with all Covid-19 protocols being followed. 

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