ON the second successive day, worms were found in the meals served to Covid-19 patients at ESIC hospital in Chinchwad on Friday. At Covid Care Centre in Akurdi, too, patients complained of worms and poor quality food being served to them. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) administration on Friday warned the contractors to improve the quality of food provided by them or quit.
“I have asked the contractors to improve the quality of meal served to patients at our Covid care centres and hospitals. If they cannot do so, they have been asked to quit,” Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar told The Indian Express.
“Even Additional Municipal Commissioner Ajit Pawar had recently held a meeting with the contractors and told them to improve the quality of food. It seems things have not improved as complaints are pouring in from patients,” he said, adding he would hold an emergency meeting with the contractors in a day or two.
Hardikar said on the second successive day on Friday, he received complaints regarding poor quality of food served to Covid patients. “I have received pictures from patients that show worms in the food. This has come from the Covid Care Centre in Akurdi area. On Thursday, we had received complaints of poor quality of foods from ESIC hospital. In both the cases, we have launched an investigation. If the contractors are found guilty, we will take severe action against them,” he said.
On Thursday, the PCMC chief had deputed his team to ESIC hospital after 30 Covid patients, in a written complaint, had alleged that the food served to them was causing stomach ache, loose motions and acidity. They had threatened to give up meal at the hospital. “I am waiting for the report from the team,” he said.
By late evening on Friday, Covid patients at ESIC Hospital in Chinchwad told The Indian Express that worm-infested food was again served to them. “At around 9 pm, while having dinner, my sister and another patient had worms in their meal.
They went and complained to the hospital staff…Even during the lunch, the quality of food was poor,” said Pankaj Patil, a patient, adding that they video-recorded the food and the arguments with the hospital staffers and sent it to officials.
Eighty-year-old Malti Kale of Kasarwadi said, “I was at Thergaon Covid Centre for five days last month. Not once could I eat the meal served there. It was so bad.”
The PCMC chief said the problem is with the tendering process. He said, “We had recommended Rs 225 per plate rate for the contractors, but the rates were brought down to 180 per plate…The contractors are now complaining about low rates.”
Hardikar said, “Since they have accepted the rate, we have told the contractors to live up to the terms of agreement and provide quality food at that rate or else opt out of the contract. We will appoint someone else who can ensure better quality food.”
PCMC Standing Committee Chairperson Santosh Londhe said, “The committee should not be held responsible. We were ready to pay Rs 200 per plate, but the contractors had filled up lower rates to get the contract.” Londhe said he has spoken to PCMC officials and the committee would make all efforts to improve the quality of food served to Covid patients.
BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap said he was shocked to learn about poor quality of food being served to patients. He said he was personally monitoring the quality and packaging of food by a self-help group from Gurav Pimple area. “The SHG was serving meal of 350 gram to each patient. I have told them to increase the quantity to 600 gram per plate meal…,” he said.
Corporator Usha Mundhe said, “Women self-help groups were doing a better job in providing quality food. But they should get better rates to ensure quality.”
The PCMC chief said the civic administration has appointed eight contractors, who are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and tea twice a day to patients at 15 Covid Care Centres and four hospitals. “We have made a provision of Rs 6 crore. We will increase the provision to ensure better quality food,” he said.
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