Updated: February 17, 2021 1:50:43 am
The NCP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit on Tuesday alleged the civic body officials, BJP standing committee members and contractors had committed multi-crore fraud and looted taxpayers’ money in the name of setting up Covid Care Centres.
At a press conference in Pimpri, NCP corporators Yogesh Behl, Mangala Kadam, Rajul Misal, and Shyam Lande, said Additional Municipal Commissioner Ajit Pawar was also involved in the scam and demanded his suspension.
“We have submitted a letter to the new Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil urging him to conduct a thorough probe into this loot of public money. We have also urged the civic chief to register an FIR against the additional municipal commissioner and suspend him till the probe is completed,” Behl said.
Misal said they had also sent a complaint to the state government. “We have urged the state government to look into the issue and take appropriate action against the BJP standing committee members, civic officials and the contractors,” he added.
The NCP leaders said they had come across a Rs 16-crore fraud in setting up three Covid Care Centres. It said the Fortune Sparsh Health Care Pvt Ltd, which runs the Bhosari centre, had submitted a bill of Rs 5.26 crore to the civic body despite not getting a single patient.
The NCP corporators said the bill was sanctioned by the additional municipal commissioner, though he had no powers to do so. “Under the Disaster Management Act, the municipal commissioner has the power to sanction bills over Rs 1 crore. Yet, in the absence of the municipal commissioner, the additional municipal commissioner approved these bills,” Behl said.
The NCP claimed there was no contract signed between PCMC and the private party for running a Covid Care Centre (CCC), but the civic body had paid around Rs 3.25 crore to the contractor.
“A report of PCMC medical officer said there was no proper arrangement made by Fortune Sparsh Health Care Pvt Ltd for running CCCs. Therefore, no written agreement was executed between the PCMC and the private agency. We suspect the bill amount was paid under pressure from the standing committee members, who were demanding their commission,” Behl alleged.
Behl claimed there was neither any infrastructure nor any patient provided treatment at the CCC run by the private party and yet the latter submitted a bill of Rs 5.26 crore to the PCMC. “These bills were fraudulent and were presented to commit a fraud against the PCMC,” he added.
Pointing out that all other agreements were signed by PCMC medical officer (health) Dr Anil Roy, Kadam said only the bills related to Sparsh Multi-Speciality Hospital were signed by the additional civic commissioner.
When contacted, the PCMC additional municipal commissioner said everything was done legally. “We had followed the due process of tendering and the bill amount was also paid as per our agreement signed with the private agency,” Pawar said.
He added in the tender, the PCMC had clearly stated that for 90 days, whether a private party gets patients or not, the civic administration will pay them the bill amount. “Our expression of interest had taken responsibility for the first 90 days. This was done because private parties were not coming forward to take up the job of running the Covid Care Centres. We had mentioned (in the tender) that we will pay the parties 80 per cent of their bill even if they don’t get patients,” he said.
According to Pawar, when PCMC was running the CCCs, it was incurring a cost of Rs 1,539 per bed per day. “But when we gave it to the private party, it was done at the rate of Rs 1,239 per bed per day. So, there was no loss to the PCMC,” he added.
Pawar said though PCMC had promised 80 per cent of the bill amount, they had succeeded in bringing it down to 65 per cent. “I would like to reiterate that everything was done legally and by following due process of law,” he said.
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