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Siddaramaiah Alleges Mammoth Corruption in Covid-19 Management of Karnataka, Wants Probe

2 months ago 10
File photo of former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah.

File photo of former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah.

The government, however, dismissed the charges saying no irregularities have taken place.

PTI Last Updated: July 23, 2020, 3:43 PM IST

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Alleging large-scale corruption in COVID management in Karnataka to the tune of at least Rs 2,000 crore, former chief minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court judge.

The government, however, dismissed the charges saying no irregularities have taken place. "The total money spent on COVID management is Rs 4,167 crore whereas state Health Minister B Sriramulu says only Rs 324 crore has been spent. Equipment and materials were purchased double or triple the existing cost.

At least Rs 2,000 crore has been pocketed by the ministers and officials," Siddaramaiah. who is the leader of opposition in the state assembly, told reporters. He demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the high court. Releasing some documents to the media to substantiate his allegations, the former chief minister claimed that the health department spent Rs 700 crore---"some of the amount has been spent and some is in the pipeline."

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (city corporation) and the urban local bodies spent Rs 200 crore, district administration spent Rs 742 crore under the State Disaster Response Fund, labour department spent Rs 1,000 crore and medical education department Rs 815 crore, Siddaramaiah claimed.

At least Rs 500 crore was spent by the social welfare department, food and civil supplies department, education department, home department and woman and child welfare department, he added.

Siddaramiaah said the health department was given a budgetary allocation of Rs 10,032 crore, which was revised and made Rs 9,689 crore. "So far Rs 1,527 crore has been released but Rs 1,554 crore was spent in April and Rs 1768 crore in May.

The total money spent in two months was 3,322 crore whereas the money released was Rs 1,527 crore.So the spending is double the money released," Siddaramaiah claimed.

Speaking about ventilators, Siddaramaiah said the Centre purchased 50,000 ventilators from the PM Care funds for Rs four lakh each, Tamil Nadu government purchased 100 transport ventilators for Rs 4.78 lakh each. The Karnataka government, on the other hand, purchased the first batch of ventilators on March 22 for Rs 5.6 lakh, then the second batch was purchased at a cost of Rs 12.32 lakh the same day. The third batch was purchased on March 24 for Rs 18.2 lakh.

"This is the reply given to me by Jawaid Akhtar, who is the additional chief secretary in the health department," Siddaramaiah said.

He said Dr Sarvabhouma Bagali, a former BJP MLA and a medical doctor, has lodged a complaint to the Lokayukta. In his letter, he has stated that the 15 ventilators supplied by a firm to the government were useless and second hand. These ventilators do not possess any standard certificates, Siddaramaiah said.

About the procurement of Personal Protection Kits, Siddaramaiah said the state purchased 9.65 lakh kits of which three lakh were purchased from a Chinese firm. Import of three lakh PPE kits from China, approved by honourable chief minister and in the Task Force meeting on March 23, 2020 and April 4, 2020," Siddaramaiah said.

Claiming that the PPEs were available in the market for Rs 330 each, Siddaramaiah said 3.5 lakh PPEs were purchased from a Maharashtra based firm for Rs 2,117 each. There were many complaints against the PPE kits (by the Maharashtra company).Even doctors had protested against the poor quality PPE kits, he alleged.

The government later returned 1.25 lakh kits to the company,the veteran congress leader said. He alleged irregularities in the purchase of masks, sanitisers, oximeters and thermal scanners.

"The government purchased 10,000 scanners for Rs 5,945 for each thermal scanner whereas in the market it is available for a maximum of Rs 2,000," Siddaramaiah said. Refuting the charges, Health Minister B Sriramulu said, "I said it before and I am saying it now -- no irregularities have taken place."

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