Monday, July 15, 2024
North East

Assam govt denies involvement of CM’s family in supply of PPE kits

Guwahati, June 4: The Assam government on Saturday refuted allegations by a section of the media that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s family was involved in alleged malpractices in the supply of PPE kits during the pandemic.
Government spokesman Pijush Hazarika said there was no scam in the supply of PPE kits and no member of the chief minister’s family were involved in the supply of any material related to the COVID pandemic.
The allegations are ”false, imaginary, malicious and can be attributed as the handiwork of a certain section with vested interests,” Hazarika, who is also the state’s minister for water resources and information and public relations told reporters here.
”Why are the two organisations (who made the claims) not going to the Court if they have evidence instead of making false and baseless allegations ?” he added.
On June 1 two digital media organisations – New Delhi-based ‘The Wire’ and Guwahati-based ‘The Crosscurrent’ in a joint investigative report claimed that the Assam government had placed four COVID-19 related emergency medical supply orders most likely without following proper process.
During the outbreak of the pandemic two years ago, none knew how to deal with the situation and experts said that PPE could provide full protection to deal with COVID infection. But there was no firm in Assam which manufactured the kits, while many other states had stopped transporting them as they themselves needed those, Hazarika said.
”During an emergency situation, it is not possible to follow the general rules and regulations. The Cabinet had taken a decision that a committee will be formed and if its members gave the nod to buy the necessary kits and equipment to deal with the situation, then it can be bought,” Hazarika, who was then the minister of state for health, said.
Accordingly, orders for PPE kits were placed with 35 firms and finally only nine firms could supply them to the government. An order of only Rs 85 lakh was placed with the firm referred to by the portals, he said.
Some PPE kits were arranged under corporate social responsibility (CSR) but not a single paise went from the government. ”So how can a scam or a scandal take place ?” Hazarika asked.
The opposition Congress, Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) had separately demanded a high-level probe by CBI, ED or any other central agencies into the alleged irregularities in supply of PPE kits in 2020 by firms linked to Sarma’s wife when he was the health minister in the previous BJP government in the state.
The chief minister’s wife Riniki Sarma Bhuyan, tweeted that in the first week of the pandemic not a single PPE kit was available in Assam.
“Taking cognisance of the same, I reached out to a business acquaintance and delivered around 1500 PPE kits to the NHM (National Health Mission) with a lot of effort. Later on, I wrote to the NHM to treat the same as a part of my CSR,” she said.
Bhuyan claimed that she did not take a “single penny” for supplying the PPE kits and asserted that she had always been “transparent” about her “giving back to the society” irrespective of her husband’s political standing. (PTI)