Having made face masks out of fabric meant for employees' uniforms, the Northern Railways has bagged its first order of 2,000 masks that are washable, cheap and even available in orange, the color worn by trackmen on duty.
A Delhi Residents' Welfare Association is the Northern Railways' first paying client and received the first batch of these masks on Tuesday.
With the government making wearing of masks mandatory in public and at the workplace, these come at a cost Rs 5.94 each against the market price of Rs 7.50 and could well serve to meet the rising demand of masks in the coming days.
Its USP of being a multi-use mask gives it a leg up from the ordinary masks which have to be disposed off after every use, making it an expensive affair for any household.
Since the priority for railways is to cater to the needs of its employees, the masks made by the zone will first be distributed among its 1.3 lakh employees.
The workshops under the zone have already manufactured 35,000 masks, officials said, adding that by May end the figure is likely to touch a lakh.
"They are such a hit now that some RWA's have shown interest in them and are placing orders. They are made of surplus cloth meant for uniforms for our employees which remained unused. We have received orders from a RWA and we will be supplying them with the reusable masks," Arun Arora, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer of Northern Railway told PTI.
The zone will be fabricating 10,000 such masks every week, some of which will be given to railway employees while others will be given to associations which are requesting them on a payment basis, he said.
The Jagadhri Workshop of northern railway has in fact also made disposable masks for the railways' medical staff, the cloth for which is being bought separately.
The washable masks are currently in use in the five divisions of northern railway, RDSO Lucknow and by its own workshop staff, besides the railway hospitals where the disposable ones are being used.
"We want people to know that we are making these masks, that they are available and we will ramp up production if needed," said Arora.
However, it is not just masks that the zone is manufacturing to augment the government's efforts to fight coronavirus, specially in areas where there is major shortfall.
It has produced DRDO approved coveralls for medical staff and hand sanitisers for their staffers.
While the railways' coveralls come for Rs 447, similar pieces in the market are pegged at Rs 808. Similarly, railways has produced sanitisers for Rs 119 for a litre, while in the open market it costs Rs 468.
Developed at the Jagadhri Workshop, the coveralls were approved by DRDO within five days.