Odisha’s coping strategies for Coronavirus pandemic are at trouble while opposition parties raise a question against the State Government.
BJD chief as well as Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik is the receiving end of probes by the opposition, Congress and BJP regarding irregularities in the procurement of PPE kits and medical supplies. The question has been raised about alleged exploitation by political bureaucrats during the trying times of pandemic.
Odisha Congress leader and PCC chief, Niranjan Patnaik has raised the issue of the scam and said, “We are not demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the matter as the BJD enjoys a majority in the state. But we want him to clarify whether there have been irregularities in the procurement or not. We demand the resignation of the ministers and all those involved in the corruption.”
What exactly are the allegations?
Niranjan Patnaik told in a press conference that while other states were buying masks at Rs.1.34 and Rs.8.47 per N95 mask, Odisha apparently bought 30 lakhs of same masks at the price of Rs.16 per piece form a Tamil Nadu based company.
His exact words were, “While other states procured masks at Rs 8 per piece, the Biju Janata Dal government bought 30 lakh masks at a double price. Instead of Rs 2.40 crore, they paid Rs 4.80 crore. It is a scam by the BJD in the purchase of life-saving medical supplies. An independent probe must be carried out to find out where the money has gone.”
Another allegation is that the Odisha State Medical Corporation Limited has purchased RT-PCR machines at the price of 12.84lakhs while it normally costs 4-5lakhs. That is three times the market price.
He promised that instead of organizing rally and protests the matter would be taken to Lokayukta and CVC and an explanation would be demanded of the State Government. Satya Prakash Nayak, a Congress spokesperson told India Today, “There are massive irregularities in procuring PPEs and masks. It is now clear that in the name of transparency and adhering to a policy of procurement they have violated everything. While other states procured material from the government e-marketplace by the Government of India.”
Odisha Pradesh Youth Congress Committee leader, Niranjan Patnaik along with MP Pradeep Majhi approached Governor Ganeshi Lal on Friday and put forward the allegations against the State Government and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
A Public Interest Litigation or PIL was filed to the High Court by the National Lawyers’ Forum demanding a CBI probe into the issue of PPE procurement by the State Government.
Ghanshyam Verma, a fellow petitioner in High Court said, “We have filed PIL in Orissa High Court demanding CBI probe on transaction made on the purchase of hand sanitizers, face masks, and PPE kits.”
In another incident, Odisha Suchana Adhikar Abhiyan filed an FIR with the police against State MSME Secretary Hemant Sharma regarding the aforementioned problem.
Following this FIR, the State removed Sharma from the position of head of the purchase committee. The government removed other officials who were in the panel of the purchasing committee and had the responsibility of dealing with PPE kits after the allegations were raised.