RTI reveals government’s ventilator scam

Ventilators for COVID-19 treatment ordered by Indian govt from a Gujarat-based firm had not received a recommendation from a technical committee set up by the health ministry’s DGHS as of July 20

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NH Web Desk

Ventilators for COVID-19 treatment ordered by the Indian government from a Gujarat-based firm called Jyoti CNC Automation had not received a recommendation from a technical committee set up by the health ministry’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) as of July 20, according to documents obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

1.RTI reveals government's ventilator scam

Accordingly, even though the firm received an advance payment from the health ministry in May, their ventilators as of last month had not been installed in hospitals across the country.

2.The firm received advance payment without installing ventilators

The ventilators of three other companies, including machines produced by Bharat Electronics, were approved for supply to hospitals by the committee as of last month. It is unclear whether the DGHS panel has conducted any new tests since then or provided any technical feedback.

3.The ventilators of three other companies were approved for supply to hospitals by the committee

Jyoti CNC Automation’s ‘Dhaman-1’ ventilators were at the centre of a controversy in May 2020, after Ahmedabad civil hospital superintendent J.V. Modi wrote to the state government’s medical services provider, saying that they were “not able to bring desired results”

4.The controversial 'Dhaman-1' ventilators failed to bring desired results.

The promoters of Jyoti CNC Automation have had connections to top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. Some of the company’s past promoters include one business family linked to the controversial gift of an expensive suit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

5.The promoters of the controversial company have had connections to top BJP leader

On May 20, 2020, the-then health secretary Preeti Sudan wrote a letter to PM adviser Bhaskar Khulbe, informing him that the ministry had placed orders for 58,850 ‘Made-in-India’ ventilators from 5 companies for a purchase order value of Rs 2,332.2 crore.

6. 58,850 ‘Made-in-India’ ventilators were ordered from 5 companies in May

These include 30,000 ventilators from Bharat Electronics Ltd, 350 from Allied Medical, 13,000 from AMTZ, 10,000 from Agva Healthcare and 5,000 from Jyoti CNC Automation.

7.Out of 30,000 ventilators, 5,000 were from Jyoti CNC Automation

PM-CARES fund had allotted Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of ‘Made in India ventilators’ and accordingly the manufacturers would be informed to give a “distinct identity to these ventilators by permanently fixing a PM-CARES logo at a prominent place”.

8.PM-CARES fund had allotted Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of ‘Made in India ventilators'

The health ministry’s response to a second RTI application filed by activist Anjali Bharadwaj, notes that Jyoti CNC Automation and Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ), which together received a total of Rs 22.5 crore in advance payment in May, did not get a recommendation from the DGHS committee as of July 20.

9.Jyoti CNC Automation and Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone failed recommendations

It is unclear whether the DGHS has conducted any new clinical evaluations over the last month that have since green-lit Jyoti CNC and AMTZ’s machines — or whether these companies perhaps received any possible technical feedback from the committee.

10. The government has not clarified if any action has been taken against the faltering companies

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