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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Pune: For 154 patients, PCMC pays up for 10,000 beds; civic chief orders probe

The civic health department said the municipal commissioner has already launched a probe into allegations by corporators against the "unreasonable" bill amount raised by those who run the care centres.

Written by Manoj Dattatreya More | Pune |
March 22, 2021 7:27:01 pm
Pimpri: Covid cases fall below 3000 daily as testing, micro containment zone stepped upIn addition to increased testing, the PCMC health department has also stepped up efforts to set up more micro-containment zones to contain the spread of the virus. (Express file photo by Ashish Kale)

Even as the PCMC lodged a complaint to investigate the issue of Bhosari Covid care centre, which was allegedly paid over Rs 3 crore despite not treating a single patient, another case on similar lines has emerged from the Covid care centre set up by the civic body in Kiwale area. The contractor for this centre was allegedly paid Rs 1.10 crore instead of Rs 13 lakh, as per terms of the contract.

The civic health department said the municipal commissioner has already launched a probe into allegations by corporators against the “unreasonable” bill amount raised by those who run the care centres. “All matters related to bills paid for Covid care centres are being investigated on the orders of the municipal commissioner,” said additional health chief Dr Pavan Salve.

Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Kalate, who first raised the issue, said at the Kiwale centre, 154 patients were admitted between September and December. For these 154 patients, 1,060 beds were used. “The Covid care centre told the PCMC that each patient occupied the bed for 10 days or more. Some occupied the beds for less than 10 days. This means, 1,060 beds were used. However, the centre submitted a bill for 10,000 beds.”

Kalate said for use of 1,060 beds, the total bill should come to around Rs 13 lakh. “However, the PCMC paid Rs 1.10 crore to the contractor,” he said.

Kalate, who produced documents related to the handing over of the Kiwale centre to the contractor at last week’s civic general body meeting, alleged, “From signing the contractor to use of beds to payment of bill, everything raises suspicion. For instance, the contract has been on a single sheet of paper. I have never seen such a contract.”

Kalate alleged that many contracts for running Covid care centres were given to BJP corporators and leaders. “While framing the terms and conditions, the PCMC administration adopted a contractor-friendly policy. I have urged the commissioner to thoroughly probe the matter and place the facts before the people. The commissioner has not only ordered the probe, but has also directed officials to bring out the facts as early as possible,” he said.

Mayor Usha Dhore, who is the presiding officer in the civic general body meeting, said all allegations were being looked into. “The commissioner has instituted a probe and everything will be placed before the people. The BJP is transparent in its functioning…” she said.

The first case emerged in February when it came to light that the PCMC administration had paid more than Rs 3 crore to a private contractor, who ran the Covid care centre in Bhosari, which did not have a single patient. A probe has been launched into this issue.

Civic officials said two senior officers involved were divested of financial powers by the municipal commissioner, and were asked to look after administrative duties only.

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