It is set to send six tonnes of food to that State
More than 250 staff of the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) in Mysore are working round the clock to meet the exigencies of the civilian population reeling under the impact of unprecedented floods in Jammu and Kashmir.
Having dispatched the first lot of five tonnes of ready-to-eat processed food on Tuesday, the institute is set to dispatch another load of nearly six tonnes of food to the flood-hit State.
“The relief materials are ready and are waiting to be airlifted,” said DFRL Director Harsha Vardhan Batra. He told The Hindu that the relief materials will either be airlifted from Mysore or Bangalore and are awaiting communications from the DRDO headquarters in New Delhi.
For the laboratory, whose mandate is to provide ready-to-eat nutritional food for the armed forces, the spin-off benefits have percolated to the civilian sector, said Dr. Batra.
“The ready-to-eat food is based on retard process technology, which has been transferred to many companies manufacturing for civilians. Most ready-to-eat food available in the market is based on this technology,” he added. He said the DFRL would continue to manufacture and dispatch food packages until the impact of the calamity subsides.
“The food we send will not be a waste as it has a shelf life of one year and can be stored for distribution in future if needed,” said Dr. Batra.
The laboratory has a mandate to meet the varied requirements of the armed forces, from soldiers deployed in sub-zero temperatures at Siachen glacier to those in the searing heat of the deserts. “Apart from providing nutritious food, we have to conceive new functional attributes like infusing it with anti-fatigue and anti-depression properties. After years of research, DFRL is on the cusp of developing thermogenic food,” said Dr. Batra.
Some of its technology is a boon to troops in sub-zero temperature, such as the instant heating up of packed food due to exothermic reaction when it comes into contact with the atmosphere. This is useful in tough terrains where there is neither time to heat the food nor external source of energy for it.
The survival ration pack for the Navy, commando ration pack, emergency ration pack for the Army and flying ration pack for the IAF crew are manufactured at the DFRL exclusively for defence personnel. Besides, it has over 500 technology transfers to nearly 230 companies so far and is working on new concepts and technologies with potential spin-off benefits to civilian society.
It is not the first time that the laboratory has come into picture during calamities. The laboratory had pitched in with its resources when a super cyclone struck Odisha in the late 1990s and during the Uttarakhand floods last year. The instant food and ready-to-eat nutritious energy bars are also by the para military forces and armed forces during the anti-naxal operations and reconnaissance missions.