COVID-19 in Mumbai: BJP questions delay in floating tenders to acquire oxygen

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has written to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), seeking details in the delay of tenders to acquire oxygen cylinders for civic hospitals, medical colleges and dispensaries.

On April 21, the Free Press Journal had reported that, in 2019, the civic body had awarded tenders to two Navi Mumbai-based private contractors for the supply of oxygen. The tender was valid for two years and lapsed on April 9, following which neither a new tender was uploaded, nor the existing tender was renewed. Later, on April 20, the administration had floated an emergency tender for the same.

In a letter addressed to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, senior BJP corporator and leader of the party in the BMC Vinod Mishra said that, earlier, in October 2020, the Central Purchase Department (CPD) had floated another tender to acquire liquid oxygen, nitrous oxide and medical oxygen. The initial due date of the tender was November 11, which was later extended to December 15. "Even after knowing that the tender will lapse on April 9, BMC didn't finalise the new tender, even six months after it was floated," Mishra told the Free Press Journal.

In the letter, Mishra has also questioned the legality of BMC acquiring cylinders from the same contractors after the contract expires. The leader has demanded a white paper on this issue. "The civic body is buying Remedesivir at a higher market price. However, in the case of oxygen they haven't renewed the contract, while we know oxygen is a more important factor," he added.

Meanwhile, senior officials of the civic body refrained from saying anything on record in this issue. An official maintained the paperwork was not completed due to the second wave. "The contract will be given to the same suppliers, but due to the pandemic, the paperwork didn't take place. As soon as the situation improves, we will do the needful," an official said.

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