Bengal government panel to probe ‘corruption’ in Covid-19 procurement
The allegations pertain to the purchase of medical supplies and equipment from some particular vendors and over its quality.Updated: Aug 19, 2020 23:15 IST
The Mamata Banerjee led administration in West Bengal has ordered a probe into the allegations of corruption in purchasing of medical equipment to fight Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
A three-member committee headed by the state home secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay will look into the allegations and submit a report to the chief secretary.
“The state health department has purchased several items in the past few months to fight the pandemic. More than Rs 2,000 crore have been spent. The allegations relate to corruption in this expenditure,” said a senior official of the state government.
Usually it is the West Bengal Medical Services Corporation Limited which purchases medicines and medical equipment in bulk. But the government had formed a committee for procuring equipment and medicines for Covid-19 to eschew delay.
“Some of the allegations are serious, including purchasing items from some particular agencies bypassing rules. In some cases, the quality of the products is also alleged to be inferior. The allegations reached the chief minister a few days ago following which she enquired about it. Thereafter a committee was formed to look into the allegations,” said the official.
The ruling Trinamool Congress has been on the back foot following two recent allegations of corruption—one involving relief distribution to Amphan-hit people and second involving the public distribution system. CM Mamata Banerjee has had to intervene in both the cases to contain the damage.
The need for medical equipment and kits were felt in large numbers since the government announced free treatment for Covid-19 in government hospitals.
“The state government has ordered nearly three million PPEs, around 3.7 million N95 masks and around 4 million gloves among others. Huge amount of expenditure is involved,” said a senior government official.