COVID Care Scam: It is alleged that the Health Department paid Rs 147 per piece of the N95 mask, while the Department of Medical Education bought them for Rs 295. Similarly, the multi-parameter monitor which was purchased for a department for Rs 1.67 lakh, the health department’s receipt states a cost of Rs 5.37 lakh.
All efforts are underway to control the spread of Coronavirus in Karnataka and to a certain extent, it is also successful. Meanwhile, a big scam is being alleged in the purchase related to COVID Care in the state. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature, headed by HK Patil of Congress, wants to start an investigation into the case by inspecting hospitals and verifying the quality of equipment including testing kits and ventilators.
However, Patil said that the investigation has not progressed due to some ‘hurdles’ and he has planned to talk to Vidhaneshwar Hegde Kagiri, the Speaker of the Assembly on the matter. The committee has been informed by a whistle-blower about certain purchases made by the Drug Logistics and Warehousing Society in charge of the purchase of equipment.
At the same time, the society had sent back some ventilators to a vendor in Delhi in April due to a lack of quality standards. On 28 April, the society letter written to the seller said that ‘in-house testing found that no certificate, brochure, a model with manufacturing detail, the proof is available. The ventilator was detected tampering. With broken / old stands (for example, the machine was found to be running 46583 hours in 1 ventilator). Technical specifications were not found against the datasheet.
PAC wants to investigate all purchases
PAC now wants to investigate all such purchases made in the last few months after the epidemic hit the state. The 20-member committee has legislators from all parties. Patil is an MLA of the Congress, while some of the other members are former president Ramesh Kumar, HD Revanna, and TA Sharwana of the Janata Dal (Secular). BJP’s Murugesh Nirani and Umesh Katti are also members.
Patil told News18, ‘We will have a meeting with the speaker on this and will sort it out. The PAC had serious discussions about sites, hospitals, and analyze documents. According to the allegations, there are many mistakes. We want to investigate and visit the site and see the quality of the equipment, but there are many obstacles. A notification states that they cannot visit the sites. We will discuss this with the speaker to overcome this problem.
About 10 days ago, the committee members decided to visit quarantine centers, hospitals, and drugs societies, but could not do so after the speaker objected.
Patil said, ‘A notification was issued, in which it was said that we should not do any such investigation. In view of this, we have decided that (Patil himself) will meet the speaker and we will have to discuss the problem so that we can visit and check the quality and quality of medicines, Covid-19 Hospital, Quarantine Centers.
Notification issued during lockdown ending 31 May
The speaker’s office, however, said that they had not received any official notice of the committee’s decisions on this issue nor requested a meeting. The notification to stop the site visit was issued during the lockdown that ended on 31 May.
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However, there is no specific estimate of how big the scam is. Patil said that serious questions were raised on the quality of ventilators, PPE kits, masks, and sanitizers, which are bought in crores. Meanwhile, Health Minister B Sriramulu said that no investigation is needed as all purchases have been done in earnest. He said that he will provide the documents to the committee within a week.