During the first Covid wave, AMC received 100 ventilators from the PM Cares Fund, but they were not used due to technical issues; no official bothered to notify higher authorities or raise the issue with the manufacturer; four months ago, the municipal corporation purchased 250 ventilators for Rs 8.5 crore.
When the second Covid wave peaked at the beginning of the year, about 100 ventilators sat unused in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s medical store.
The AMC’s negligence has come to light at a time when authorities are preparing for a possible third wave following the festival season.
The state government provided the ventilators to the AMC through the PM Cares Fund, but they were unable to be used because they did not function properly. Despite the fact that ventilators were in short supply, nobody in the AMC bothered to repair them. The AMC did not even notify the state or federal governments about the ventilator flaws.
According to AMC health department sources, the ventilators could not be used in civic-run hospitals because they lacked the necessary installation facilities. Many of these ventilators were distributed to private hospitals, but they were returned due to technical issues.
Besides that, these ventilators lacked a display, making it difficult for doctors to determine the flow of oxygen to Covid patients. Some of these were delivered to the AMC store, while others were delivered to the SVP Hospital godown, where they have been collecting dust for the past year.
As if this negligence was not enough, the AMC went ahead and bought 250 ventilators four months ago.
A senior AMC official said, “All the top officials of AMC knew that the ventilators had faults but none complained or raised the issue with the state government. Their silence was surprising at a very critical juncture in the fight against Covid.”
“Four months ago, the civic body purchased 250 ventilators from councillors’ grant,” said AMC Hospital Committee Chairman Paresh Patel. SVP Hospital has 138 of these, VS Hospital has 40, LG Hospital has 55, and Shardaben Hospital has 17.
Kamla Chavda, a former AMC opposition leader, stated, “There would have been no need to buy new ventilators if someone in the AMC had bothered to get 100 of them repaired or exchanged from the company that supplied them. The AMC should have notified the manufacturing company and had them replaced with new ones. Those who have wasted public funds should face harsh penalties.”
According to AMC sources, no official had the courage to file a complaint about ventilators provided by the PM Cares Fund.
If a complaint had been imbedded, it would have focused attention on the central government. In fact, several other state governments have already complained to the central government about the poor quality of ventilators.
The AMC bought 250 ventilators at a cost of Rs 8.50 crore. AMC corporators contributed Rs 5 lakh each from their discretionary grant.
This money could have been saved and utilised elsewhere if the 100 ventilators from the PM Cares Fund were either repaired or got replaced by the company.