Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Friday accused the Karnataka government of misappropriating funds for purchasing medical equipment for coronavirus treatment in the state, PTI reported. The former chief minister alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government procured medical supplies at prices double the actual market cost.
“The government has purchased corona related equipment worth more than Rs 3,000 crore,” Siddaramaiah told reporters in Bengaluru. “Prima facie, it looks the government has paid more price than the market price. I demand the government to come out with a white paper regarding the purchase and [the] price paid. I also demand for an inquiry into the purchase.”
In a tweet, Siddaramaiah alleged that nearly Rs 2,200 crore has been misappropriated by various departments in their Covid-19 management efforts, adding that many of them are running the fraud in secrecy. “About 60,000 crore is collected in PM-Cares Fund,” he added. “But only 3,200 crore is spent by the Prime Minister’s Office. What happened to the rest of the money? How much of the spent money has helped Karnataka?”
The Congress leader demanded the Centre should make the PM-CARES Fund more transparent, and both the Centre and the state government should release a white paper regarding the availability of beds, ventilators, ambulances and patients admitted. “The data are not disclosed even when I, as Leader of Opposition, submit the request,” he tweeted. “[The] government has to release white paper with regards to Covid-19 management to ensure transparency & accountability.”
Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar dismissed the allegations and claimed that all medical purchases for combating the pandemic have been made in the most transparent manner under the supervision of the chief secretary. “It is wrong on part of a former chief minister [Siddaramaiah] to allege corruption,” he said. “If he had doubts he could have asked the chief secretary or us ministers. This will not send the right message.”
Sudhakar added that since the administration was facing challenges every day, “there might have been some delay” in sharing of information. “Will we run away somewhere?” he asked. “We will share an account of every rupee spent.”
Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah hit out at the government over the recent incident in Ballari, where health workers were found tossing bodies of suspected coronavirus patients into a pit. Health Minister B Sriramulu had said the staff involved in the funeral procedures have been suspended.
“Certain acts on part of the government are inhuman and disrespectful to humanity....This was done by the officials, where is the government?,” Siddaramaiah asked. “Should not Sriramulu own up responsibility? Is suspending six people and saying such things will not happen in the future a solution?”
Karnataka has reported 19,710 cases of coronavirus as of Saturday morning, according to the Union health ministry. The state’s toll from the disease stands at 293.