Bengaluru: Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly Siddharamaiah has demanded a judicial probe into the alleged multi-crore scam in the purchase of COVID-19 equipment.
Raising the issue under Rule 69 in the Assembly here yesterday, he claimed that the scam runs into several crores of rupees and the purchase lacked transparency. There is a prima facie evidence of large-scale corruption and judicial probe was must to punish the guilty. “We have documents to prove kickbacks in the purchase of face mask, PPE kit, ventilator and sanitiser by paying seven times the original amount. In the name of Containment Zone, Rs.60,000 to Rs.70,000 has been spent on each zone and embezzled funds worth crores of rupees,” he alleged.
Siddharamaiah said COVID-19 related deaths could have been prevented had the State and Union Governments initiated timely action. The Union Government delayed imposing a total lockdown which triggered Corona positive cases. The State Government neglected the pandemic from the beginning and that is now posing a big trouble to manage. Unlike other diseases, Coronavirus is very dangerous which need to be managed better. Unfortunately, there is lack of coordination among Ministers. The package announced by the State and Union Governments have not reached the working classes.
Siddharamaiah said the Government has purchased each N-95 mask at Rs.147 on March 14, Rs.156 on March 20, Rs.97 on March 21. The same was available for Rs.50 to Rs.60 in market. So far, the Government has purchased lakhs of such N-95 masks. The PM Care Fund Trust has bought each ventilator at Rs.4 lakh and Tamil Nadu at Rs.4.8 lakh. Whereas Karnataka has purchased by paying Rs.10 lakh to Rs 18.2 lakh per ventilator, he noted.
Former Minister and senior Congress leader H.K. Patil said hundreds of people are dying due to shortage of oxygen. Though oxygen was produced in large-scale it was being sent to other States. Due to this, oxygen was not available to Karnataka patients. Need of the hour was to stop using oxygen for other purposes and utilise only for the treatment of seriously ill COVID-19 patients, he stated.
KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar accused the State Government of doing politics over the dead bodies. He said BJP legislators and Ministers like Arvind Limbavali and Byrathi Basavaraj and others, had put their pictures on the food kits donated by various organisations including Akshaya Patra and Infosys, and distributed to needy.
The State Government had put the party symbol on the nutrition kit meant for distribution among pregnant women and children of Anekal taluk, and so far, the FIR has not been registered. Chief Minister B.S.Yediyurappa had announced Rs.1,610 crore package to lockdown affected families but till today not even 20 per cent of people have received the benefits, he observed.