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Blunder or plunder?

It's the oldest trick in the book on how to make money —inflating invoices. Administrators at Aruna Asaf Ali Government Hospital in Civil Lines did exactly this by inflating bills of things they purchased by over 300 per cent, reports Jaya Shroff Bhalla.

delhi Updated: May 29, 2009 22:36 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

It's the oldest trick in the book on how to make money —inflating invoices.

Administrators at Aruna Asaf Ali Government Hospital in Civil Lines did exactly this by inflating bills of things they purchased by over 300 per cent.

When potatoes were sold for Rs 2.75-Rs 8.75 per kg at Azadpur Mandi, the city’s biggest agricultural produce wholesale market, the hospital was paying Rs 17 per kg.

Toned milk still costs Rs 21 a litre at Mother Dairy but the hospital has been paying Rs 23.50 per litre since 2007.

Wholesale price for grains was between Rs 10.05 and Rs 10.71 at the agricultural produce market in Narela in July 2007, but the hospital bought wheat flour for Rs 18.5 per kg.

Almost all products for the hospital were bought from Delhi Consumers Co-operative Wholesale Stores but at much higher price than wholesale rates.

And though the store's tender bid expired on May 31, 2008, the hospital continues to buy eatables at more than double the market rates.

Hindustan Times has a copy of the letter signed by three evaluation committee members who wrote to Medical Superintendent Dr H.C. Das about inflated bills in July 2007.

Since there was a single qualified bid and rates were high, the committee decided that the “tender may be allotted on market rate plus 10 per cent incidental charges”.

Disapproving of the negotiated rates, the committee wrote that market rates be decided according to wholesale rates at Azadpur Mandi and Kendriya Bhandar, the government-approved grocery centre.

Then Medical Superintendent Dr H.C. Das said, “It’s bakwaas (nonsense). It’s all mudslinging. When I was the MS, all tendering processes were very transparent.”

Though a complaint has been made to the Principal Health Secretary (Delhi), no action has been initiated.

An official in the health department, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “We have received a complaint and we are looking into it.”