On 31st March, the government had placed an order for 40,000 ventilators, which included 30,000 from Skanray Technologies and 10,000 from AgVa Healthcare. PM CARES Fund allocated Rs 2000 crore for 50,000 “Made In India” ventilators amid surging COVID-19 cases. According to PMO as per 23rd June, only 1340 ventilators have been delivered to the States/Union Territories when 2923 were manufactured.
Many BJP supporters tweeted that, in the last 70 years, India got a total of 47,000 ventilators in public and private hospitals, but with the PM CARES Fund, in one stroke, India will get 50,000 more ventilators.
QUESTIONS WHICH ARE ARISING
- Does the 50,000 PM Cares Fund ventilators order include the earlier order of 40,000 ventilators? Why is there such a massive delay in the delivery of ventilators?
- The government purchases each ventilator for 4 lakhs.. However, AgVa has openly stated that the cost per ventilator is 1.5 lakh.
- So why is the government paying an additional Rs 2.5 lakh per machine?
- Was there an open tender or competitive bidding process before the orders were placed?
- Why is BJP government purchasing ventilators from a company producing sub-standard ventilators when 81 ventilators of AgVa Maruti have been returned by Mumbai Hospitals on the basis of non-performance?
ALL ABOUT THE THEORY BEHIND THE SCAM
As India fights Coronavirus as well as soldiers at the border, a theory has been floating that there is a “ventilator scam” going on. The first one to talk about this theory is Saket Gokhale, an Activist in the month of June. He accused the BJP of embezzlement of 750+ crore by mishandling the PM CARES Fund.
He said that the Skanray Technologies(from whom 30,000 ventilators were ordered), is a licensed partner for manufacturing Philips ventilators, The same “Philips CV200″ model as the “Made In India” model has been passed by Skanray. He quoted that the model is sold on IndiaMart, an e-commerce portal at Rs 2.5 lakh per unit.
So Gokhale meant to say that out of Rs 3100 crore, Rs 2000 crore was allotted for the procurement and the government, instead of Rs 2.5 lakh per machine, paid Rs 4 lakh.
Soon the other Congress supporters spread it all over twitter.
The twitter thread of Gokhale was dealt with, by the CMD of BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited). BEL is an electronics company in India which is a Navratna defense Public Sector under the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
The CMD said that it was a piece of fabricated information as no such model of Philips was produced as per his knowledge. A fictitious product under the brand name of Philips was circulated in the virtual marketplace. He said that CV200 is a high-end ventilator with integrated 2-hour battery backup manufactured by BEL, a standalone medical-grade compressor having 30 minutes UPS backup, built-in blender for FIO2 settings and several safety features.
The ventilator is priced competitively considering its configuration, features, and performance. The ventilator bears the PM CARES logo to ensure traceability and accountability, as it is being procured under this fund.
PM CARES FUND
The fund was set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March as a public charitable trust which aimed at strengthening the fight against COVID-19 and the trustees are- The PM, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. It is a body owned and controlled by the appropriate government.
The fund invited donations from the Public and sports stars, celebrities, and big corporations also contributed. The government never declared publicly how much the fund has accumulated in total. According to some reports, in the very first week, Rs 6500 crore was collected. Out of which Rs 3100 crore( was to Fight Covid-19)which included Rs 2000 crore(for buying “Made In India” ventilators), Rs 1000 crore(to help migrant workers) and Rs 100 crore (to help Indian Academia and Startup who are working to find a cure for Covid-19).
The PM CARES Fund is said to be non-transparent, as it is not likely to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General Of India (CAG), nor does it release information under the RTI on how the fund is used as PMO claims that the fund is not a “public authority”.
So, the Delhi firm SAARC Associates headed by Sunil Kumar Gupta(who is alleged to being close to BJP leadership) had been appointed as auditors of the fund for 3 years. According to a report by the Economic Times, the same firm audits the PM National Fund.
A petition was filed through advocates in the Delhi High Court by the petitioner, to seek(A copy of the complete file including note sheets, letters, communications memoranda or orders to establish the fund.). But the information was refused on the ground that the Fund is not a “public authority” under the ambit of the RTI Act.
As of date, all accusations are declared false. However, we never should stop interrogating.