By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: June 13, 2020 2:06:21 am
Later in the day, BMC announced it was cancelling the contract. (File)
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday cancelled a contract for procurement of body bags after social activist Anjali Damania alleged that the bags were being purchased at a higher price and the contract was awarded to a firm whose original business was casting of metals and which had no experience in making body bags.
On Thursday, Damania tweeted a document saying BMC has given a contract to purchase body bags to Vedant Innotech Private Limited for Rs 6,719 per bag. She alleged malpractices in the contract saying actual cost of a body bag is Rs 250 to Rs 1,200 while BMC is paying nine to ten times more.
Recently, the civic body’s central purchase department had awarded a contract to purchase body bags to Aurangabad-based Vedant Innotech Private Limited at Rs 6,719 per bag. So far 2,200 body bags have been purchased at about Rs 1.15 crore from Vedant from the first tender that was floated in April.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Damania said, “This is a scam as BMC is purchasing the bags at higher rates. The best of the bags can be purchased at a maximum Rs 1,200. Even in the USA they bought bags by paying Rs 3,800. Here BMC is purchasing it for Rs 6,719. There is a scam all across and when we exposed this BMC cancelled the contract. For the three ply masks also BMC is paying higher rates.”
The BJP too jumped in, saying they raised the issue first and later it was picked up by Damania. BJP’s Mumbai secretary Vivekanand Gupta had tweeted on Thursday morning about the purchase of body bags at high rates. “BMC is making money out of bodies. The central purchase department has made corruption in the purchase. They should face action for looting public money at the time of crisis,” said Gupta.
Later in the day, BMC announced it was cancelling the contract.
“Ours is a very old firm that has been supplying disaster management related materials to NDRF and defence forces. We have supplied body bags for floods and other disasters… Our product and rates are approved by central government and everything is there on website. We have patented the product as we are the only one who supply bags with fluid absorbing pads to minimise any chance of infection spread,” said Satish Kalyankar of Vedant Innotech Private Limited. He said he was not aware that the tender has been cancelled.
BMC officials said these bags have been finalised as per technical specifications set by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. These bags should be impermeable, leak proof, disposable, opaque, white. Other companies which had participated, the quality of bags was not as per specifications and there was a risk of leakage, they said, adding the said company fulfilled all technical specifications and a nine-member committee too had recommended this bag. Officials said rates at which bags are purchased are also mentioned at the ministry’s website and BMC is just following guidelines set by the Centre.
“Last month, we had floated a tender in which ten bidders had participated and Vedant Innotech qualified. Now following the controversy we have decided to float fresh tenders on Saturday,” said P Velarasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects).
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