There is a vast difference in the prices of ventilators bought under THE PM CARES fund. The two companies to whom an advance was released were later not recommended by the technical committee, constituted under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), an RTI revealed.
According to RTI, An advance was released to atleast two companies- Jyoti CNV Automation and AMTZ basic, which were not recommended by the technical committee constituted under the DGHS.
According to an India Today report atleast one such purchase order was given without the nod of the empowered group constituted to ensure availability of essential medical equipment, as it pre-dates the constitution of the group.
Anjali Shrivastava is an RTI activist. She filed an RTI on June 18, 2020. In the RTI, she sought details of hospitals run by the center which have been allocated money or have been supplied ventilators paid for through the PM CARES fund.
Along with the total amount allocated from PM CARES fund, It seeks to know the total number of ventilators supplied, and the number of ventilators that have been delivered and paid for by the fund.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a response dated July 20, 2020, read, “250 PM-Cares ventilators were given to DRDO COVID Hospital in Delhi and three have been provided to the All India Institute of Ayurveda, Delhi. No funds are being provided to hospitals for the purchase of ventilators.”
The response also said, “The Ministry and HLL had made purchase orders for 58,850 ‘Make in India’ ventilators. PM Cares is proving Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of Make in India ventilators.”
It also said the technical committee constituted under DGHS recommended only 3 of the 6 companies and finally notes that 17,100 ventilators have been allocated to states/UTs.
However, a reading of the table containing the names of the companies, the purchase order quantity and the purchase order value provided in the RTI response show a wide variation in the price of ventilators. For instance, as per the table, each ventilator from ‘Allied Medical’ company costs Rs 8.62 lakh, while those from ‘Agva Healthcare’ company cost Rs 1.66 lakh each.
According to an RTI activist Bhardwaj, the RTI response shows that at least two of the companies — Jyoti CNV Automation and AMTZ Basic — to whom an advance was released and was later not recommended by the technical committee constituted under the DGHS, the report said.
In another RTI filed on June 18, 2020, Bhardwaj requested a copy of correspondence through which the views of the Department of Health and Family Welfare were sought on the supply of ventilators from the PM Cares Fund.
The Health ministry responded with a copy of the communication with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). It was a letter from Bhaskar Khulbe (advisor to the Prime Minister) dated May 18, 2020, written to Secretary, MoHFW . And a reply from Secretary, MoHFW dated May 20, 2020.
Khulbe stated in the letter that the Health Ministry has initiated the process of procurement of ventilators. Based on the recommendations of the empowered group constituted, request for a detailed proposal is made so that 50,000 ventilators can be financed through the PM Cares Fund.
The response from the ministry contained a detailed statement containing the names of the companies, the purchase order quantity, the purchase order value and the advance released.
It further noted that the purchase order of Rs 166 crore to a company was given prior to the constitution of the empowered group.