May 11, 2021 7:33:36 pm
Reviving its plan to procure vaccines for the city independently, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to issue a global tender for purchase of about 50 lakh doses to ramp up Mumbai’s immunization drive. The BMC is in the process of finalizing the rules of the global tenders to be floated this week, officials said.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal Monday tabled a proposal for procurement of 50 lakh doses for “in principle” approval at a meeting with the corporation’s party group leaders. Mayor Kishori Pednekar has given the go-ahead to the proposal.
“The BMC is ready to procure about 50 lakh doses for Mumbai’s vaccination drive. Apart from two Indian companies, the four international companies (making the vaccine) can also participate. This would be helpful as some of these are one dose vaccines. There was a discussion in the Group Leaders meeting today and we all immediately agreed to the commissioner’s proposal,” Pednekar told The Indian Express.
She added, “Providing a huge quantity of vaccines for Mumbai is a huge burden on the state government as it has to fulfil the requirements of other corporations.”
Guardian Minister Aaditya Thackeray is also pushing the move. He tweeted that the BMC was exploring possibilities of global procurement of vaccines. “After discussing with CM Uddhav Thackeray and understanding the need for adequate vaccines to ensure that vaccination in the state is swift and efficient, I have asked BMC explore possibilities of global procurement of vaccines,” said Thackeray.
Earlier, the BMC had dropped the plan of independently procuring vaccines as the state government did not green signal it. At an Idea Exchange with The Indian Express last Thursday, Chahal had said the plan had to be dropped as the state government had conveyed that it would supply all corporations.
A BMC source said the change of mind to allow BMC to buy its own vaccines may have to do with next year’s BMC polls and the poor financial health of the state government. “The BMC has to hold an unhindered election next year, and for that reason, it would be appropriate to immunize the maximum number of people before that. Not doing so will hurt Sena. The BMC has enough money to buy such a huge quantity of vaccine stock,” said the source, adding that it would help Sena “hold the fort” in the elections.
Due to shortage of vaccines and glitches of CO-WIN app, Mumbai is facing chaos at immunizations centres. Mumbai has a population of 1.25 crore. Only 27.31 lakh people have been vaccinated so far.
Although the exact expenditure is yet to be worked out, officials said the vaccine purchase could dent the BMC exchequer by about Rs 400 crore. The selected bidder will have to deliver the doses between 3 to 4 weeks.
Officials said that apart from Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII), the BMC is eyeing vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik and Johnson & Johnson. Senior officials involved in the procurement process said there would be multiple tenders.
“We are in process of finalizing the tender conditions. It is a general tender and the bidder will give specification about the vaccine, trials and imports by other countries,” P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner, (Projects), told The Indian Express.
The finalized company will have to do other compliance in India like import facilitation, getting essential registration.
Officials said that this quantity will help cover a large population of the city. “As of now total requirement of vaccines for the city is 1.50 crore for the population of 18 years above. In phased manner we will increase the capacity of daily vaccination,” said an official from BMC’s health department.
Despite repeated attempts, Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal was not available for comment.
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