Within 3 days, cost of testing kit raised from Rs 1,150 to Rs 2,912 violating Centre’s guidelines, alleges former Tripura health minister and ruling BJP MLA Sudip Roy Barman
Agartala: Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Sudip Roy Barman has alleged massive irregularities in the Tripura health department while procuring medical kits to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
In a letter to chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, the MLA of Agartala constituency alleged that some of the traders with active support from senior officials of the state health department are adopting fraudulent means and taking advantage of the present situation.
“Government of India in a gazette notification, dated March 21 last, has fixed the rate of hand sanitizers saying that it will not be more than Rs 100 per bottle of 200ml. The prices of other quantities of hand sanitizers shall be fixed in the proportion of these prices. As such, maximum retail price of a 500 ml hand sanitizer stands at Rs 250," Roy Barman wrote.
Roy Barman, who was the health minister in the present BJP-IPFT government before he was stripped of ministership last year, in his letter to the chief minister also said that the mission director for NHM on April 9, almost 20 days of issuance of the guidelines of the Centre, placed an order with ‘Mayank Technocracy’ for 500 ml hand sanitizers at Rs 320 plus 12% GST, which equals to Rs 359.
For each 500 ml bottle of hand sanitizer, the state paid an extra amount of Rs 109, violating the guidelines of the Central government. The total excess amount of Rs 5.45 lakh is being paid for the supply of 5,000 bottles from the state government in this time of national crisis, Roy Barman said.
The letter also cited that the mission director, NHM ordered for the supply of COVID-19 testing kits namely ‘N-COV Real-time Detection Kit’ at a rate of Rs 2,912 including GST, whereas the state had earlier procured kits at a price at Rs 1,150 per kit, the former state health minister alleged.
“Within this span of three days time, cost of testing kit raised from Rs 1,150 to Rs 2,912, a difference of Rs 1,762 per kit. So, total difference in amount in order for supply of these 1,920 kits stands to be Rs 33,83,040,” Roy Barman added.
He also said that the first order was placed before a well-reputed company of India, specialized in dealing with this COVID-19 kit while the second order was placed in a high price with a Tripura-based company whose trade license expired on March 31 last.
"...in order to save the skin, when the said vendor was informed regarding various queries made by the whistle blowers, as on April 13 last, Madhab Roy for Mayank Technocracy had written to the member secretary of health services by email that he is ready to supply hand sanitizer at Rs 250 per bottle. For testing kit, nothing was mentioned in that email. The concerned department has neither taken action in this regard and the sufferers are the common masses of the state,” he wrote.
He also added, as per the observation of closely related associates, the health department has miserably failed to store and make necessary data entry of the COVID-19 related stock which was received from different government agencies, PSUs, private bodies under CSR activities. Those items have been misplaced and even sold by a few health professionals and others, he alleged.