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Karnataka: Minister Dr K Sudhakar cornered on Covid kit purchases
Siddaramaiah cries corrpution, demands judicial probe; Sudhakar refutes charges
Bengaluru: After the opposition demand for a judicial inquiry into procurements made during the COVID-19 pandemic was rejected, opposition Congress lawmakers led by Siddaramaiah walked out of the Assembly in protest on Wednesday.
Karnataka Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar earlier asserted that there was no corruption in any of the procurements done during the pandemic.
Replying to a debate on alleged procurement scams pointed out by opposition parties in the Assembly, Sudhakar said that there was no deviation of funds or corruption. "So, where is the question of ordering a probe? The state government rejects all allegations made by the Opposition," the Minister said. He charged the opposition lawmakers with trying to derive political mileage which he said was demoralising officials and Corona Warriors.
According to him, ventilators procured by the TN government are transport ventilators used in ambulances. "Hence, it is not correct to compare our ventilators with those in Tamil Nadu. Ventilators of different specifications and quality are available for different prices; one should not get confused with different prices," he maintained. He asserted that the market prices vary as per the demand, and the procurement is done on the basis of prevailing prices. "There is no instance of corruption in the procurement of equipment for the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Not even a single deviation has taken place and, therefore, there is no need for an investigation," he asserted.
"When there was no domestic production, we procured three lakh PPE kits from China. Subsequently, we decided to purchase from local manufacturers, that too ICMR-approved kits. Similar procedures were followed by other states as well," the Minister explained.
He said there was shortage of sanitisers in the state but after talks with distillery owners, the demand has since been met.
Earlier, several opposition leaders, including Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah accused the state government of indulging in rampant corruption during the pandemic. "Be it the purchase of ventilators, beds, medicines, or PPE kits, every procurement was cleared only after a cut. Hence, it is necessary to order a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court Judge," he said, as other opposition members endorsed his views.