Even as it prides itself on having kept the spread of COVID-19 under control, a major misappropriation of funds may have happened in Karnataka’s expenditure on virus-related purchases made over the last two months.
The Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), led by Congress’ HK Patil, is keen to initiate an investigation into the matter by conducting spot inspections of hospitals and verifying quality of equipment, including testing kits and ventilators.
However, Patil said it has not been able to go ahead with the probe due to certain ‘hurdles’ and he plans to speak to Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri over the matter.
The committee was tipped off by an anonymous whistle-blower about certain purchases made at an inflated cost by the Drug Logistics and Warehousing Society that is in-charge of procuring equipment.
While the Health department has bought N95 masks for Rs 147 each, the Medical Education Department is said to have bought the same for Rs 295. Similarly, multi-parameter monitors that were bought at Rs 1.67 lakh for one department, came at Rs 5.37 lakh for another.
The society had itself sent back some faulty ventilators in end-April to a vendor in Delhi after it found that quality standards were not met, its own documents showed.
The society’s letter to the vendor on April 28 read, “An in-house inspection was done and the observations made by health equipment officer is as under: No certificates, brochures, model with manufacturing details, proof not available.
Ventilators found use and tampered, with broken/ old stands (ex, 1 ventilator has the machine running hours of 46583 hours). The technical specifications do not comply fully compared to the data sheet.”