Guwahati: The Leader of the Oppositions in Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia on Friday urged the Upa Lokayukta, Assam to investigate the allegations of a huge scam in procurement of various items related to Covid-19 pandemic including Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, by the State’s Health & Family Welfare department.
In a letter to Justice Chittaranjan Sharma, Upa Lokayukta, Assam, Saikia tried to draw the former’s attention and said that several allegations of irregularities have been raised against the state government.
Saikia’s letter was based on the allegations made by Assam Public Works (APW) which had written to the Chief Minister of Assam complaining that a group of businessmen were colluding with senior officials of the State’s health department, to monopolize the supply of various items.
“The complainants have alleged that this cartel is using the crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic to mint money via irregular means. They have made specific reference to contracts for the supply of PPE kits and triple-layered N-95 masks worth around Rs. 71 crore, details of which have not been posted online on the department’s website or State government’s e-tendering portal in violation of CVC and GFR guidelines,” the letter said.
The APW members have also alleged irregularities in the tender for supply of sodium hydrochloride solution and malathion. It also expressed doubt about the utilization of an amount of Rs. 630 crore which has been given so far by the Centre as Covid related aid to the State government.
Saikia said, “Besides, a similar complaint was made to the chief minister by an RTI activist named Adish, who provided documentary evidence about gross anomalies by the health department while procuring overpriced Covid-19 testing kits under the National Health Mission (NHM). He claimed that Assam NHM had paid Rs. 1,145 per kit whereas the same supplier had provided kits to the UP government at Rs. 490 per kit.”
The Congress leader requested the Upa Lokayukta to take cognizance of the matter and institute an investigation to ascertain the veracity of these charges, especially because the issue involves reported profiteering at a time of general human misery.