Councillors raised serious questions on the Chandigarh civic body’s purchase procedure of PPE kits, sanitizers and gloves worth Rs 2.84 crore for the MC staff in the General House meeting, on Friday.
The councillors expressed doubts over the high rates specified and also the manner in which the items are being procured.
BJP President and councillor Arun Sood specified a list of questionable details regarding the tendering done by the corporation.
Sood said that the best PPE kits, which are being taken for doctors, are priced at Rs 800 per piece, but the civic body has listed the purchase price at Rs 1,050 per piece for the PPE kits for the MC staff, without taking any expert’s advice and specification. “In the first place, the committee they constituted for purchasing does not have a single expert. The Medical officer of health is not an expert and we should have someone from PGI. Moreover, we should get the specifications approved from DRDO as these kits will be worn by the staff in containment zones. There are multipurpose kits coming and the length of time for which they can be used is also more, that too at lesser rates,” said Sood.
The councillor also raised questions on the quantity for which tender has been put out. Tender has been floated for 20,000 PPE kits for Rs 2.10 crore and 34 companies have come forward. “We should order as per the actual requirement. Do we also really need N95 or medical masks? The MC staff won’t be able to breathe,” he added.
Sood was told in the house that his question meant he didn’t trust the official of the MC. “I was told that it means I don’t trust the MOH in the committee who is a doctor, but he is not an expert. We need experts,” he said.
Congress councillor Satish Kainth told The Indian Express that the officials should have provided the list of companies that came forward to supply PPE kits “as they don’t want a repeat of the Himachal scam.”
“When these things were available on GEM why did they choose to invite private companies? Have we checked their credentials? If they were so accurate about ensuring transparency, they should have provided the list of all these companies, which they didn’t. And is an executive engineer or law officer or any other engineering wing official, an expert on PPE kits?” questioned Kainth.
“Moreover, they are getting this issue to the house for discussion after floating the tenders and inviting companies.
So that in case any issue of corruption arises later, they can get away with it saying that the matter was approved before the house. And this huge number of kits is not required when only few pockets of containment zone will be left. Look at the way these things have been bifurcated- tender for masks, tender for gloves. The right procedure is not being followed,” he added.
As tendering has also been done for sanitizers of 100 ML bottles, Sood said that their party was ready to give any number of sanitizer bottles of 100 ML free of cost, adding that there is no need to go ahead with it. “We have already given 6,000 bottles of sanitizers of 100 ML each, and we are ready to provide more bottles, free of cost. So, this tender should not be done,’ he said.
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation that was infamous of late for construction of poor roads which deteriorated later has now its expenditure focus on protective equipment for Covid-19.
Other than tenders for PPE kits, sanitizers worth Rs 46.80 lakh have also been ordered. Around 30,000 bottles of sanitizers of 500 ML amounting to Rs 45 lakh, along with 6,000 bottles of 100 ML sanitizer bottles worth Rs 1.80 lakh have been ordered. Ten companies have participated for this too.
Various types of gloves and masks have also been ordered. As per the details, N95 masks (about 3,200 in quantity) have been ordered for Rs 16.56 lakh. Other than this, three ply medical masks for Rs 2.10 lakh have also been ordered.
Gloves worth Rs 6.40 lakh and binding tape worth Rs 20,000 has also been ordered. For this, seven companies have participated in the tender.
Later, the officials agreed to include nominated councillors, Dr Jyotsana Wig and Ajay Dutta in the committee, but even then it was pressed that expert advice be taken on the purchase.
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