Bhubaneswar: Many still remember when several Odisha government officials had patted their own backs for going the extra mile to ensure enough supply of medicines and medical equipment to combat COVID-19 outbreak in the State.
However, startling gaps are now emerging in the procurement strategy followed by the State government for essential COVID-19 supplies raising serious questions about transparency.
After inexplicable lapses in procurement of face masks and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), variations in the procurement of testing kits and Real Time PCR machines have now come to the fore. Surprisingly, testing kits have been procured from three different companies at three different rates.
As per the investigation carried out by OTV, Odisha State Medical Corporation had issued a purchase order (ER19611) for procuring testing kits from a Kolkata-based firm on April 21, 2020 at Rs 1,321 per kit. The order was placed for two lakh kits at a price of Rs 26, 43,20, 000.
On May 7, an order (ER19656) was placed with RMRC for procuring 45,000 kits at Rs 1125 per kit and a Bhubaneswar-based company was paid Rs 5,60,00,000.
Four days later, the third purchase order (ER19675) was issued on May 11 for 4920 kits at Rs 980 per kit and a Bhubaneswar-based company was paid Rs 48,21,000.
Such variations in the unit prices of COVID-19 testing kits have now provided fodder for the opposition to train guns at the State government.
“It is really unfortunate that some people are trying to make profits when people in the State are grappling with a pandemic,” said State BJP general secretary, Lekhashree Samantsinghar.
Congress leader Sudarshan Das said, “The cost of real time PCR machine is Rs 4 to 5 lakh in the open market. But the same machine was procured by Odisha government at Rs 12, 94,000.”
Odisha State Medical Corporation, on the other hand, clarified that all the equipment were procured keeping in mind the situation that time. The decision to procure real time PCR machines was taken by the concerned committee and as it was high priority product, its cost was high, the corporation maintained.
As per data released by the Odisha State Medical Corporation, the State government has procured around 4.60 crore masks and 22.80 lakh PPE kits so far.