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Why pay for free lenses?

Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital paid Rs 12.71 lakh for 750 artificial lenses. The hospital’s eye department also bought other equipment at inflated rates. Jaya Shroff Bhalla reports.
Hindustan Times | By Jaya Shroff Bhalla, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2009 12:56 AM IST

West Delhi's Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital paid Rs 12.71 lakh for lenses which it could have got without paying a single rupee.

In March 2006, the hospital’s eye department paid Rs 1,695 each for 750 Intra Ocular Posterior Chamber Lens — artificial lenses used to replace damaged natural lenses inside the eye — to NCS Network in Karol Bagh in Central Delhi.

If one were to purchase it from the market, the lenses cost Rs 1,450 each but the hospital could have got these absolutely free from Blindness Control Society.

The department also bought other equipment at inflated rates, with the difference in price adding up to an extra Rs 25.48 lakh.

The complaints are documented in a letter to the Economic Offences Wing. Suresh Raghav, a supplier of medicines and equipment, in March 2007 lodged a complaint. Hindustan Times has a copy of the complaint.

According to the letter, DDU bought an imported Synaptophore (Inami Japan model, L-2510), which is used to measure angle of the squint, in March '06 for Rs 4.3 lakh (+VAT) from Medicare Titan in Shivalik. The machine costs was Rs 2.68 lakh (+ VAT) in the open market.

Indirect Opthalmoscope (Omega 180 Kit Heine, Germany), an instrument used to examine the interior of the eye, was bought for Rs 2.2 lakh (+ VAT), when it was available in the market for less than half the price, the letter said.

The complainant also alleged that several imported instruments bought are also manufactured in India, which is against purchase rules of the Central Vigilance Commission.

The rules make it mandatory to have a “Not Manufactured in India Certificate” (NMIC) when buying imported equipment.

The complaint letter said, “Items are manufactured indigenously and are also imported. Neither indigenous manufacturers nor direct importer were asked to quote.”

Dr M C Agarwal, head of eye department at DDU Hospital under whom the purchases were made, said, “The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has submitted its report and found no problem with the purchases, while the Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC) report is still awaited.”

“I have put in a Right to Information (RTI) request for the report.”

An inquiry officer, who was unwilling to be named, said, “There was a difference in the market rates and the rates at which the products were supplied to the hospital.”

“But, the price in the markets is of no consequence when the prospective bidders do not quote it in the tender.” “The hospital followed the tendering process and the equipment was ordered from the lowest bidder.”

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