With PM Cares Fund Under Scanner #PMVentilatorScam Trends on Twitter

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Mohd Aasif I Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The Congress started a spirited campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA government at the Centre on Twitter on Monday this week. The party cornered the government the alleged PM CARES ventilator scam with hashtag #PMVentilatorScam trending on second position internationally for almost the entire day.

The PM CARES fund has been on the radar of the intelligentsia of the country for quite some time. With the PMO declining to reply to the questions raised in an RTI on the newly established fund during the pandemic doubts were raised on its credentials. Criticism of the government over the fund intensified after it was declared as ‘not public’ authority even though the fund was constituted by a government circular and all the constitutional institutions and their employees were asked to contribute to it.

The campaign against the government gathered momentum after the authorities claimed that the PM CARES Fund will be used to provide ventilators for patients suffering with Coronavirus Covid-19. BJP chief JP Nadda had promised 6,000 ventilators by the end of the June, but the government delivered only 1,340 ventilators till June 23.

The official twitter handle of Indian National Congress (INC) writes, “PM-Cares is not BJP’s private fund, it is money collected from the public and should be subject to all levels of transparency.”

On March 31, the government ordered 40,000 ventilators. Thereafter, the PM Cares fund allocated Rs 2,000 crore procurement of 50,000 ventilators. The Congress asked if the second order included the first 40,000 ventilators.

The concern of the Twitterati is that the hard-earned money of the taxpayers of the country has been lost due to the scam. Former Union Cabinet Minister and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahai tweeted in Hindi, “Modi Sarkar ne aapda ko avsar men badal kar laakhon mareezon ke swasthyay se khilwad kiya hai. Bina tender chaheti company se kharide gaye ghatiya quality ke ventilators ko aspatal vapas lauta rahe hain. Aapda ke samay Bhajpa ko isse bachna chahiye tha.” (The Modi government has played with the health of lakhs of patients by converting the pandemic into an opportunity. Hospitals are returning poor quality ventilators bought from a favoured company without tender. BJP should have avoided this during the pandemic.)

The allegation of not following proper procedure for the procurement of ventilators holds water as The Pioneer reported that the CCMV designed and built by Skanray making use of the Bharat Electricals Ltd (BEL) technology succeeded in bringing down the cost considerably. Dr Jagadish J Hiremath, MD in anesthesiology was quoted as saying, “This ventilator costs less than a lakh rupees.”

The government’s claim it had spent Rs 4 lakh on each ventilator contradicts the AgVa company statement that its ventilator costs 1.5 lakh. The question arises where did the remaining 1,500 crore has gone. Former foreign correspondent, Saket Gokhale, writes, “PM CARES claims to have spent 2,000 crore on 50,000 ventilators (i.e. 4 lakh/ventilator). While the above statement by Dr Hiremath shows they together should’ve cost less than 500 crore (at a price of less than 1 lakh/ventilator) where did 1,500 crore go?”

The government should come clean on the matter.

 

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