Amid alleged reports of black marketing and inflated billing for essential medical supplies required for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Sunday directed officials to curb the black marketing of oxygen at any cost.
Presiding over a review meeting in Lucknow, Adityanath asked officials to ensure uninterrupted oxygen availability in the state's Covid-19- designated hospitals with an additional 48 hour oxygen backup inventory even as he said that oxygen production units needed to be operated at optimum capacity.
He underlined that adequate and ready availability of essential medical supplies, including personal protection equipment (PPE) kits, face masks, gloves, sanitisera etc be maintained, and strict action be taken against those indulging in the black marketing of such commodities.
On Thursday, the Adityanath government had instituted a three-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe the alleged irregularities in the procurement of medical equipment pertaining to Covid-19. Reports emanating from a few districts in UP had suggested certain medical supplies were being purchased at much higher price than what is prevailing in the open market.
UP Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue, Renuka Kumar, is heading the SIT, which also comprises Additional Chief Secretary, Medical Education, Amit Kumar Gupta and Secretary (urban development) Vikas Gothalwal. The SIT will probe the matter and submit a report in 10 days to the government for action.
The CM ordered for the SIT probe after authorities in Sultanpur, Ghazipur and some other districts were accused of procuring pulse oximeters and infrared thermometers at inflated prices. “If any anomaly is found at any stage, strict action will be initiated against the guilty,” a state government statement said.
On June 23, the state government allowed for the purchase of pulse oximeters, infrared thermometer and sanitisers for all village panchayat from the corpus released by the UP Finance Commission. Later, after irregularities came to light, the SIT probe was ordered by the CM.
The issue has nonetheless given a raeson to the opposition parties to attack the Adityanath government on the issue of corruption and the alleged squandering of public money in the name of Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the CM observed his government was committed to providing better medical facilities to the people and all possible steps were being taken to protect the population from the coronavirus infection.
However, he stressed upon growing public awareness and following safety protocols, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, to keep the disease at bay.
So far, more than 7.5 million Covid-19 tests have been conducted in UP and the state government is taking steps to further expedite the rate of testing apart from increasing the number of Covid-19 beds.
“We will be able to control the disease more successfully if we can increase the number of testing further,” Adityanath noted.