Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is in a spot over an alleged scam in the purchase of Covid-19 kits consisting of oximetres, thermal scanners, and pulse checkers.
The matter was first flagged by BJP MLA from Sultanpur Devmani Dwivedi on 4 September in a letter to Adityanath.
Dwivedi alleged that Covid kits, which are priced at Rs 2,800 per kit, were procured in his district at Rs 9,950 per kit.
These kits were provided to health workers in April to carry out a door-to-door survey. The kit had a thermal scanner to check fever, an oximeter to gauge the oxygen level and a pulse analyser to check the pulse. This survey is still going on across the state.
The opposition has alleged that the scam has taken place not just in Sultanpur but in as many as 65 districts.
Under pressure from the opposition and media, the government has set up a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the alleged scam.
But the opposition, including the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), demanded a detailed probe by the CBI or by an SIT headed by a sitting judge of the high court as they claimed that officers considered close to the CM have been made members of the SIT.
They have also demanded registration of FIRs against erring district magistrates (DM) and panchayati raj officials.
The government has so far suspended district panchayati raj officers (DPRO) of Sultanpur and Ghazipur, and transferred their DMs last week.
When ThePrint reached UP government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma’s office for a comment on the matter, his staff said he won’t comment on the issue.
ThePrint reached another spokesperson, Siddharth Nath Singh, but his phone remained unavailable until the time of publishing this report.
SIT asked to submit report within 10 days
In his letter to the CM, BJP MLA Dwivedi alleged that the DM of Sultanpur had “pressurised” the panchayat officials to procure the Covid kits at an exorbitant price of Rs 9,950 even when the government had asked the gram panchayats to buy the kits at Rs 2,800.
Following these reports, the Yogi government set up the SIT, headed by Chief Secretary (Revenue) Renuka Kumari, last Friday.
The SIT has been asked to complete the investigation and submit a report within 10 days.
SIT an ‘eyewash’
The AAP has alleged that the scam is not limited to only Sultanpur and Ghazipur districts, but has happened in as many as 65 districts.
The party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said that the market price of an oximeter is Rs 800, while the price of a thermal scanner is Rs 1,800.
“If we add these two items, the price of the Covid kit comes to Rs 2,600. So why did the DM of Sultanpur purchase the kits at Rs 9,950? At whose behest such a big scam took place and which officials have earned a commission to sanction this?” he said at a press conference last week.
He also alleged that similar scams have taken place in Bijnor, Jhansi and Barabanki districts too.
“In more than 20 districts, oximeters and thermal scanners were purchased at an inflated price and in the case of the procurement of pulse analyzers, massive corruption has occurred in more than 65 districts. How many places will the SIT be able cover in 10 days?” said Singh.
Meanwhile, Congress state president Ajay Lallu issued a statement Sunday, saying the SIT constituted by the government is an “eyewash”.
“The SIT is full of officers considered close to Yogi Adityanath. It will not implicate anyone other than petty officials or employees. So there should be a CBI inquiry in this case,” Lallu said.
Talking to ThePrint, SP spokesperson Juhi Singh also said the SIT is an eyewash as civil servants are investigating other civil servants.
“Under such circumstances, any action against any senior officer is unlikely. So a high-level investigation is necessary. It should be investigated under the supervision of one of the sitting judges of the high court,” she added.
AAP’s Singh echoed similar sentiments, saying an FIR should be registered and the matter should be investigated by a sitting HC judge.
Guilty won’t be spared, says BJP
UP BJP spokesperson Harish Srivastava told ThePrint that strict action will be taken against all the culprits.
“The Yogi government has already taken action against two officials. Now the SIT report is awaited. The guilty will not be spared. The government’s policy of zero tolerance towards corruption remains intact,” he said.
UP currently figures in the top five states in the country in terms of Covid cases. On Sunday, 6,239 fresh cases were reported, taking the total case tally to 3,12,036 and deaths to 4,429.
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