On Saturday, the Assam government disputed media reports that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s family was involved in suspected malpractices in the provision of PPE kits above market price during the pandemic.
According to government spokeswoman Pijush Hazarika, there was no fraud in the distribution of PPE kits, and no member of the chief minister’s family was involved in the distribution of any COVID-related items.
The claims are “false, fictitious, spiteful, and can be linked to a specific sector with vested interests,” according to the report. According to Hazarika, who is also the state’s minister for water resources and media and public relations,
“Why aren’t the two organizations (that made the charges) going to court if they have evidence rather than making false and unsubstantiated allegations?” he continued.
In a joint investigative report published on June 1, two digital media organizations — New Delhi’s ‘The Wire’ and Guwahati’s ‘The Crosscurrent’ — stated that the Assam government had placed four COVID-19-related emergency medical supply orders most likely without following proper procedure.
During the pandemic’s outbreak two years ago, no one understood what to do, and specialists believed that PPE might provide complete protection against COVID infection. However, there was no company manufacturing the kits in Assam, and many other states had ceased transporting them because they required them, according to Hazarika.
“It is impossible to obey the general rules and regulations in an emergency situation.” The Cabinet had decided to form a committee, and if its members agreed to purchase the required kits and equipment to deal with the problem, it might be purchased,” stated Hazarika, who was then the minister of state for health.
As a result, orders for PPE kits were placed with 35 companies, with only nine of them being able to offer them to the government. According to him, the websites referred to a firm that received an order for only Rs 85 lakh.
Some PPE kits were provided through corporate social responsibility, but the government did not contribute a single penny. “How, then, can a fraud or a scandal occur?” Hazarika inquired.