According to an investigative report published by Dainik Bhaskar, the Rajasthan state government bought oxygen concentrators worth Rs. 35,000 for over Rs. 1,00,000 showing gross negligence and callousness while the country was grappling with an oxygen crisis and even till a month after that.
In order to know more about the matter, GoaChronicle.com got in touch with Dainik Bhaskar journalist Anand Chaudhary who gave us important insights into the matter. It is pertinent to note that the companies which are selling similar oxygen concentrators to the Kerala government at a mere 35, 000 are selling them to the Rajasthan government for 50, 000. The Rajasthan government seems to have paid no heed about the prices of the concentrators which are being paid by other states. Although the Rajasthan government’s main demand was that the concentrators should have a guarantee of 1-3 years, one of the companies, which had assured a guarantee of 3 years to the government, was side-lined by the Ashok Gehlot regime.
On the other hand, the company which had offered a guarantee of only a year was the one through which numerous concentrators were then bought. Not only were this but the concentrators also not bought directly from the manufacturers but through private companies, using them as middlemen. Oxygen concentrators were also sourced from companies which sell soaps, dry spices like chilli powder and salt and LEDs. These companies do not have an experience of manufacturing, selling or buying such medical equipment. In the name of an emergency, such companies bought Chinese oxygen concentrators and sold them to the government. One of the companies which had sold concentrators to the Rajasthan government was blacklisted by the Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation (RMSC) back in2019.
Invoices showing the deals of buying the concentrators.
As per rules, it is mandatory to pay the taxes to a company after the product is delivered to the buyer but in Rajasthan; the tax was paid beforehand at a 12% GST rate even though the GST on concentrators had been earlier reduced by the government to 5%. Many companies are yet to deliver the oxygen concentrators. At Kota’s Taleda Hospital, Chinese oxygen concentrators were sent. No staffer could understand the concentrators’ indications in Mandarin. Similar concentrators are lying idle inside the Hindaun Hospital. In Gangapur city, concentrators are lying in junk storages.
Medical staffers working at various health centres across the state have said that such concentrators are of no use to the patients. 10% of the concentrators provided to the health centres are the ones with complete use of Mandarin for indications, user manuals and directions. In a scenario where nobody understands the language, using such concentrators will prove to be detrimental to the patients. Most of the concentrators do not have a purity indicator. And those which have one, have a really low oxygen purity of merely 30-50%. It is important to keep in mind that oxygen concentrators are used to treat patients with mediocre severity symptoms and if the oxygen saturation is less than the mandatory level of 90%, the level of carbon dioxide starts increasing and dangers like brain death, kidney failure and heart failure start to persist.
Several doctors and MLAs from various districts of the state have now written to the state government in order to call out the substandard and risky oxygen concentrators provided to them.
This issue of buying inefficient and substandard oxygen concentrators at unreasonably high costs has once again made Rajasthan and its government the talking point during the spread of COVID-19. Earlier to this, it was found out that vaccines were being wasted in huge numbers across the various vaccination centres in the state by either burning or burying the vials filled with doses or throwing them into garbage bins or deep wells. And before that, it was revealed as to how innumerable unused ventilators, which were procured through the PM Cares Funds, were lying idle inside storage rooms of hospitals or were leased out to private hospitals at hefty charges citing non-usage.
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