Karnataka spent Rs4,200 crore to fight Covid | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The government on Wednesday claimed it spent Rs 4,200 crore between March and August on the fight against Covid-19 and admitted the “war” against the virus is far from “won”.
While responding to accusations from Congress of misappropriation in purchase of medical equipment on a debate in the legislative assembly and speaking on government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic, medical education minister K Sudhakar insisted there has been no wrongdoing.
“While the opposition claims Rs 2,300 crore was misappropriated, I would like to place on record that the total expenditure in the fight against the pandemic itself is Rs 4,200 crore,” Sudhakar said. “The amount has been spent by 15 departments of the state in their various capacities.”
The minister said the health and family welfare department, at Rs 1,142 crore, spent the most, while his department — medical education — spent Rs 76 crore. The next biggest spenders after the health department is the labour welfare board, which exhausted Rs 824 crore in direct benefit transfers (DBT) to 16.5 lakh labourers.
Reiterating the government’s claim that there is no misappropriation, Sudhakar said four scrutiny committees had looked into every purchase of medical equipment, including personal protection equipment (PPE) and ventilators.
“In the past six months, we have tried to upgrade medical health facilities and that is the reason we have spent on high quality products,” he said, while insisting opposition allegations are misleading.
Citing the example of the Rs 18 lakh ventilator which was procured by the government, Sudhakar said only one such piece was procured at that rate. “Now, the opposition claims that neighbouring Tamil Nadu purchased 100 ventilators at Rs 4.8 lakh each. These ventilators are transport or ambulance ventilators and cannot be used in ICUs. The Rs 18 lakh ventilator is of high quality which we use in the ICU,” he said.
However, the minister could not respond to questions raised by opposition leader Siddaramaiah on the functioning of ventilators. “As far as I understand, the basic function of any ventilator is to provide artificial breathing facility for patients who cannot breathe independently. What does it matter whether it is Rs 4 lakh or Rs 18 lakh? Who are these people who are using the Rs 18 lakh ventilator?” Siddaramaiah retorted.
However, the minister merely repeated that there was no misappropriation and refused to accede to the opposition’s demand for a judicial commission probe into the purchase of equipment. Unhappy with the response, Congress and JD(S) legislators walked out of the assembly in protest.
‘Outsiders cause of spike’

Earlier in the day, Sudhakar blamed the huge spike in Covid-19 cases in Karnataka over the past couple of months on an “influx of people from outside the state”.
“Every state in the country and this is true of other nations as well, has seen a spike in cases for two or three months on account of a sudden rush of migrants back home,” Sudhakar said. “Karnataka has also been a victim of this trend as thousands of people returned from mostly high-risk states.”
The minister said the sharp rise in numbers coincided with unlock phases, since people could move around freely.

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Sagar Biswas

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