The Bold Voice of J&K

Financial Irregularities During Pandemic Time

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Dear Editor,
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has reported that over 50 per cent of Rs. 140 crore paid for O2 during Covid has been siphoned off. In this connection, the ED has reportedly recorded the statement of several people including contractor Romin Chheda of Highway Construction Company. Chheda is a politically influential contractors working in the BMC and his company was involved in renovation and development work of civic-run zoo in Byculla. The financial irregularities have been detected by the ED in the supply of oxygen to hospitals and field COVID centres during the pandemic. BMC had reportedly paid Rs. 140 crore and out of that amount less than half of the amount has been said to have been spent on it. The remaining amount has been siphoned off. ED has claimed that Chheda sub-contracted the work to another company, a paper company, which eventually purchased the oxygen and required equipment from a Delhi-based supplier. While examining the documents, the ED has found that the Delhi-based supplier had raised the bill in the name of the paper company and subsequently an inflated bill was raised in the name of the company through which Chheda bagged the contract. Chheda has allegedly paid only 40 per cent of the Rs. 140 crore to the Delhi-based supplier and a part of the amount has been spent on transportation and for creation of storage facilities. ED had reportedly searched Chhedda’s premises in July and recovered Rs. 1.2 crore cash from his office and home. COVID Second wave claimed the lives of many people. A large number of families were bereaved during that period. While a number of families were in grief, it was a God-sent opportunity for contractors and hospital authorities to make money through unfair means. Beds in hospitals were hired for bribe money apart from collecting legitimate fees. Artificial scarcity of beds was created. Those who greased the palm of hospital authorities got the beds and saved their lives. Poor people who could not afford to pay hefty sums of money as bribe had to lose their lives. During the second wave, vaccination had not been developed. Therefore, the disease claimed heavy tolls. Even now there is no report to suggest that COVID-19 has been eradicated. US President Joe Biden’s wife has tested positive. The arrival of Biden for the G20 meet was also in doubt earlier. After finding that he tested negative, he could take part in the G20 summit in Delhi. No country should be complacent on this disease which at one point of time threatened the very existence of mankind. Vaccination should be administered and it should be the continuing process. If the disease raises its ugly head, it not only plunges the families in grief but also it impairs the economy of the nation as a whole. Investment on the manufacture of vaccination with associated expenditure in administering it to the people is no dearer than the expenditure likely to be incurred if the disease plays havoc more formidably than before. The interest of children has been totally neglected and the government should not forget that they are the budding and promising citizens of the country. No effort should be spared to keep the pandemic under check and no chance should be given to the suppliers of oxygen or contractors or hospital authorities to take advantage of the difficulties the people face.
K.V. Seetharamaiah

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