On Monday, several BJP leaders, including party general secretary B.L. Santosh, Jayant Sinha, and Sambit Patra, began tweeting the same photo of a domestically-manufactured ventilator funded through the PM CARES fund to tout that the money was being used effectively. Some even went so far as to say that this was as good as an audit.
This series of enthusiastic tweets of the availability of ventilators, however, has not been backed by doctors or the government’s apex medical body or the party’s official statement as of now.
BJP leader Amit Malviya tweeted a chart of state-wise distribution of ventilators in India sourced from The Center For Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), quoting a study by researchers that till date only 47,000 ventilators were available in public and private hospitals in India whereas because of Narendra Modi’s PM CARES Fund, in one stroke, 50,000 ventilators have been made available.
The research paper mentioned by Malviya was reportedly done in association with Princeton University and was published in April this year. The researchers estimated that India had approximately 1.9 million hospital beds, 95 thousand ICU beds, and 48 thousand ventilators. Most of the beds and ventilators in India are concentrated in seven states – Uttar Pradesh (14.8%), Karnataka (13.8%), Maharashtra (12.2%), Tamil Nadu (8.1%), West Bengal (5.9%), Telangana (5.2%) and Kerala (5.2%).
However, it seems that the series of these tweets has not gone down well with doctors – Dr. Jagdish Hiremath who is one of the three best cardiologists in Pune and has been a follower of the BJP for several years, and also have been actively involved in this development as a ventilator expert, tweeted this:
Let there be shame on this PM & PMO who wants to hog all the limelight for work done by others. How much has PMO paid me for my contribution to this?
To all the chelas of the emperor, believe me, this is the tipping point. You guys have lost a good man.
— DR JAGADISH J HIREMATH MD (@Kaalateetham) June 14, 2020.
The doctor doesn’t seem impressed with the party member’s move. He retweets Ms. Priti Gandhi’s tweet as saying that only blind people will believe that PM & PMO do everything.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed union government allocated Rs 2,000 crore from PM-CARES for purchase of 50,000 ‘Made-in-India’ ventilators on May 13, 2020. It was at this juncture when Indian Prime minister, Health Minister, and other BJP leaders said that we have the scientific and technological competence to produce ventilators of India’s own and that it would add a new feather to Prime minister Narendra Modi’s dream campaign of Make in India.
The print quoted a government official as saying “In India, there used to be just six to seven ventilator manufacturers. The majority of it was imported, costing anywhere between Rs 15 lakh to Rs 16 lakh. Compared to this, the ventilators that are being made in India cost between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh”.
According to a Business Today report, the main domestic manufacturers of ventilators are Skanray Technologies in Mysore, New Delhi-based AgVa Healthcare, AB Industries of Vadodara, Air Liquid Medical Systems of Chennai, Mumbai-based AVI Healthcare, Ahmedabad-based Life Line Biz, and Thane-based Medion Healthcare.
Skanray Technologies, the leading ventilator manufacturer in the country, has created a consortium with Bharat Electronics (BEL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Mahindra & Mahindra group to ramp up production from its usual 2,000 units per month to the current capacity of 30,000 units per month by end-May. Similarly, AgVa has tied up with Maruti to scale up production from 400 units per month to reach 10,000 units per month by May, reported Business Today citing sources in the known.
On March 28, an Economic Times report quoted Mahindra & Mahindra as saying that the company expects to come up with a sophisticated ventilator at just Rs 7,500, which otherwise costs up to Rs 10 lakh.
Now time for the point to ponder:
Basic 3rd standard student, if asked to find out the cost of each ventilator procured by government, would tell us that each India-Made ventilator procurement price fixed by Union government would cost Rs 4 lakh Indian Rupees.
On April 21, 2020, TOI quoted NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant’s tweet as saying that a Bangalore-based based company has developed a disposable ventilator prototype that would work without electricity and would cost only Rs 2,500.
Another development was from IIT Roorkee that announced that it had developed a completely indigenous ventilator, with full functionality, at a cost of 25,000 per piece.
Another step forward, after the corona pandemic fear, Indian Railways announced during April month that it has developed a low-cost ventilator at its Kapurthala Rail Coach Factory that would cost barely Rs. 10,000 and made it known that it had sought ICMR’s permission to mass-produce it, according to a business today report.
As attributed by BJP Ruling party ministers, quality Indian made ventilators lined up by Indian frontline government organisations at affordable prices from 10,000 to 2,500. This being the case, why then the government allocated 2000 crores, which means Rs. 4 lakhs per piece to buy 50,000 ventilators.
Already, 10 lakhs testing kits procured by ICMR from China through private companies at a higher price with 145% cooked up prices came under the scanner and then been reprimanded by Delhi court, TSA earlier reported. Now, 4 lakhs per ventilator? Does PM CARES stinks with new scam?
However, a recent analysis by IndiaSpend estimated that at least Rs 9,677.90 crore has been collected in the PM CARES until the third week of May. Yet, the announcements made till date are Rs 2,000 crore for purchase of 50,000 ventilators, Rs 100 crore for vaccine development, and Rs 1000 crore for migrant’s social security.