Government backs Railways' silent hero's face shields

Updated: 17 April, 2020 13:59 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar, Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

After mid-day reported about how a CR guard made masks for his colleagues, minister asks him to make more shields for all frontline staff fighting the virus

Vishal Kalage (second from left) with minister Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar (right)
Vishal Kalage (second from left) with minister Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar (right)

The protective face shields to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) made in-house by Central Railway train guard Vishal Subhash Kalage and his family have now received an endorsement from the Maharashtra government.

Minister of State for Health Rajendra-Patil Yadravkar approved the masks and asked Kalage to provide them to the frontline staff — railways, state police, medical workers.

A B.Sc in Microbiology, Kalage's effort was highlighted in Sunday mid-day's April 12 edition as one of the silent heroes who has been making masks with help of his family and friends.

"This was a surprise for me. We met Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar sir during his recent visit. He appreciated our work and gave permission to make the shield for doctors and frontline staff," Kalage told mid-day.

"The face shields are cheaper than those in the market, which are priced at Rs 350-1,500. We made these at Rs 80 and also this can be washed and reused," he added.

The face shield
The face shield

He has so far made more than 3,800 masks which are being sanitised and distributed free at railway hospitals, railway factories, loco sheds, railway employees and the needy.

"When the Coronavirus crisis started, I realised the importance of masks and went to purchase them, but they were expensive. This is when I realised that we had to do something ourselves. I turned to my family and they agreed. I bought the right kind of cloth and we started making masks. My mother, wife and children are all helping me in my work," he added.

Now that everyone knows about Kalage's good work, many of his colleagues and fellow guards, loco pilots and friends have started to help by donating money and cloth required to build the masks.

Speaking with mid-day, Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar said, "This came as a pleasant surprise to me. The novelty these young people brought gave me new hope. Remember these people don't have much knowledge of the Coronavirus, and yet they experimented to create such a device."

"I'm extremely proud and happy as a medical professional and politician who also looks after the health department in congratulating and encouraging them to continue their work. I think such innovative minds are our national assets and they should be given all opportunity to come up with equipment and gear," he said.

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First Published: 17 April, 2020 07:38 IST

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