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‘90% of 320 ventilators sent to Punjab by Centre faulty’

As of today, the Faridkot medical college, which caters to 10 Malwa districts, has only 32 ventilators in working condition.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
May 13, 2021 1:46:08 am
Punjab, PM CARES Fund, ventilator, Government Medical Colleges at Amritsar, Patiala, Faridkot, punjab news, indian expressWorkers unloading a fresh batch of ventilator accessories from a truck. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Out of 320 ventilators received by Punjab under the PM Cares Fund, over 90 per cent are defective, revealed Dr Raj Bahadur, professional adviser to state’s Covid-19 response and procurement committee.

“Ventilators came to the Government Medical Colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot in different batches on different dates and they were 320 in total. Over 90 per cent of them are faulty due to which doctors didn’t use the entire lot. We can’t take chances,” said Dr Bahadur, who is also Vice Chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) in Faridkot. Out of the 320 ventilators, Guru Gobind Singh (GGS) Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot had received 92.

As of today, the Faridkot medical college, which caters to 10 Malwa districts, has only 32 ventilators in working condition.

“Their quality is so inferior that they cannot be put to use. They were tried by our doctors, but they never worked properly,” said Dr Bahadur.

Asked if the issue was raised with the Centre, he added: “We had informed the rapid response teams of the central government about this issue and had raised the matter with Government of India as well. Now, engineers have arrived to repair them, let’s see if they can be used after being repaired. Already in the hospital, we are using 32 ventilators which are of our own medical college.”

Pointed out that Punjab government had told the High Court that 82 ventilators were received from Centre and 71 were faulty, Dr Bahadur reiterated his figure of 320 ventilators received by the state in batches and over 90 per cent being faulty.

The issue came to light after AAP MLA Kular Singh Sandhwan tweeted a picture of ventilators lying in a store room in Faridkot.

He tweeted, “When patients are dying on a daily basis for want of ventilators or better care, this junkyard room really shows a sorry state of affairs…”

In fact, three available ventilators at Faridkot Civil Hospital were shifted to the medical college as there was no technician to operate them.

Sandhwan said,”In March’s budget session, I had raised the matter about faulty ventilators and I was told that they will be repaired soon. This shows how serious the central government is while spending funds which the public gave them for improvement of health facilities and further how serious the state government is to raise the issue if an inferior quality product is provided. In addition to this, it needs to be seen that once they are repaired, whether the medical college has this much of staff to operate these ventilators? I don’t think they have recruited any more staff as yet.”

In Punjab’s Malwa region, districts like Muktsar, Mansa Barnala, Fazilka, Sangrur have no ICU beds with ventilators (neither in private nor in government hospitals), while districts like Ferozepur, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib have less than 5 ICU beds with ventilators. Bathinda has over 100 ICU beds with ventilators, but all in private facilities.
Sandhwan has now demanded a thorough inquiry in the matter. He said, “Guilty must be punished for inferior purchases and also the ones who did not flag the issue before. In addition to this, staff to operate these ventilators should also be recruited soon.”

Sukhbir writes to PM

Meanwhile, SAD president Sukhbir Badal on Wednesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “order an inquiry into the purchase of faulty ventilators under the PM Cares Fund”.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the SAD president said: “I am sure you would agree with me that supplying defective and inferior quality ventilators during a time of national health emergency is a criminal offence. The company responsible for this should be booked and they should be proceeded against as per the law.”

(With Inputs From ENS, Chandigarh)

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