In a span of two months, at least two different scams have come to light in the state of Bihar. First, an ambulance scam was unearthed in the Saran district of Bihar. Now, another such scam has surfaced in the neighbouring Siwan district, home of state health minister Mangal Pandey. According to reports, 21 ambulances were purchased under Chief Minister’s Area Development Fund. Interestingly though, seven ambulances, whose market price is Rs 7 lakh each, were purchased for Rs 21.84 lakh each. These ambulances were purchased from a trader who claims to be a dealer in “bathroom fittings.”
Former minister Vikram Kunwar on Tuesday shot off a letter to chief minister Nitish Kumar saying, “Each ambulance worth ₹7 lakh was purchased for around ₹22 lakh in Siwan district. Instead of procuring these through Government E-Market place portal (GEM), ambulances were purchased from another place.” As a matter of fact, these extravagant ambulances are air-conditioner enabled, and have been lying idle in the Government Ayurvedic College hospital grounds at Siwan and Hasanpur primary health centre.
Vikram Kunwar alleged the ambulances were fitted with very costly modifications. Ventilators, costing ₹ 60,000 at India Mart, an e-commerce company, were purchased for over ₹ 3.41 lakhs, the minister writes. Medical equipment, costing ₹ 31,000 was bought for over ₹ 1.18 lakh. A suction machine that costs just ₹ 8,500 was purchased for over ₹ 33,000. Furthermore, according to NDTV, ₹ 1.24 lakh was spent on seat partitions in the ambulances.
Acting on the complaint of Vikram Kunwar, Siwan district magistrate Amit Pandey has ordered a probe. “A committee has been constituted to probe the matter. Ambulances also carry a few special types of equipment for Covid, which is why their rates were higher than normal,” the DM told ANI. Kunwar also pointed to the alleged role of Siwan District Planning Officer in the ‘scam’ and said, “When this is the situation in the home district of Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, then what will be the condition of other districts, you can guess from this scam.”
If Nitish Kumar is indeed running a “Sushaasan Sarkaar”, he must immediately take action and punish all those involved in scamming for personal profiteering during an unprecedented health crisis. Nitish Kumar must begin by sacking his health minister – Mangal Pandey, in whose district such a scam was effectuated.