K’taka Cong reiterates graft in purchase of COVID-19 kits

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K’taka Cong reiterates graft in purchase of COVID-19 kits

Bengaluru:  Defiant opposition Karnataka Congress on Thursday harped on corruption charges against the BJP government in purchase of medical equipment for COVID-19 treatment across the state.

“Though Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa denied our charges, we have evidence of corruption in purchase of masks, personnel protection equipment (PPE) kits, oxygen cylinders and ventilators by the state government since April,” thundered Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah, releasing a set documents in Kannada at a news conference here.

Refuting the state government’s claims of spending only Rs 333 crore till date on buying medical equipment and supplies, including medicines, the former Congress Chief Minister (2013-2018) told reporters that as per documents he has, the state government spent a whopping Rs 4,167 crore, with at least Rs 2,000 crore pocketed by some ministers and officials.

“According to information and official documents I have, the state government has procured medical kits at a higher rate than others states spent on them.

aThe state has purchased hundreds of ventilators at exorbitant rate ranging from Rs 5.60 lakh per unit Rs 12.32 lakh and Rs 18.20 lakh on three occasions, while the central government got 50,000 ventilators at Rs 4-lakh per unit and Tamil Nadu paid Rs 4.78 lakh pet unit,” asserted Siddaramaiah.

Accusing the nearly year-ago BJP government of foul play in buying PPEs,A party’s state unit president D.K. Shivakumar said 3.5-lakh kits were bought from a Maharashtra firm for Rs 2,117 per kit when their market price was Rs 330 per unit and 1.25 kits were withdrawn as they were of poor quality.

The opposition leaders also alleged that the Chief Minister approved importing 3 lakh PPE kits from China for Rs 94.2 crore when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about self-reliance (atmanirbar) and ‘Made in India’.

Similarly, about 10-lakh masks were purchased at Rs 250 per each by the health department while the social welfare department paid Rs 600 for the same quality mask.

“About 300 oxymetres were purchased for Rs 13.10 crore at a cost of Rs 4.36 lakh for each, while Kerala spent Rs 2.86 lakh for the same quantity,” claimed Siddaramaiah.

As per the documents, Siddaramaiah said the health department expenditure in April was Rs 1,554 crore and Rs 1,768 crore in May, totaling Rs 3,322 crore.

“We demand a judicial inquiry by a high court judge in the purchases of medical kits by the state government since April,” asserted Siddaramaiah.

State Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan and Revenue Minister R. Ashoka, however, denied the graft charges by the Congress. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai ruled out an inquiry into the charges, terming them baseless and irresponsible.

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