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  4. Sisodia accuses Himanta Sarma of PPE contracts scam; Assam CM responds

Sisodia accuses Himanta Sarma of PPE contracts scam; Assam CM responds

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia claimed that Assam CM Himanta Sarma — who was a health minister at that time — honoured PPE contracts to companies run by business partners of his wife and son. The Assam government, however, refuted the claims.

Hritika Mitra Edited by: Hritika Mitra @MitraHritika New Delhi Updated on: June 04, 2022 18:39 IST
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia addresses a
Image Source : PTI

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia addresses a press conference, in New Delhi on Saturday. 

Highlights

  • Sisodia accused CM Sarma of giving PPE contracts to companies run by son, wife's business partners
  • Sarma stated that his wife donated around 1500 kits to the govt for free during the Covid pandemic
  • Sarma also stated that PPE kit orders were placed with 35 firms but only 9 firms could supply them

AAP leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged on Saturday that Assam Chief Minister (who was health minister then) Himanta Biswa Sarma gave contracts to companies run by his wife and son's business partners to supply PPE kits above market rates.  The Assam government, however, refuted any such allegations. 

Sisodia claimed that while the Assam government procured PPE kits for Rs 600 a piece from other companies, Sarma gave urgent supply orders to the firms of his wife and son's business partners for Rs 990 a piece "taking advantage of the COVID-19 emergency."

"While the contract given to the firm of Sarma's wife was canceled as the company could not supply PPE kits, another supply order was given to the firm belonging to the business partners of his son at a rate of Rs 1,680 per kit," Sisodia said citing the media report.

Meanwhile, the Assam government refuted the allegations made by several media organizations that CM Sarma's family was involved in alleged malpractices in the supply of PPE kits during the pandemic. 

Replying to the allegations made by Manish Sisodia, Assam CM tweeted: "Dear Manish Sisodia, let me refresh your memory from 2 years. You did not even reply to my tweet when my people from Assam needed your help during the Covid pandemic. Many phone calls even went unanswered in spite of the fact that we knew each other very well." 

Responding to the point of overcharging, Sarma said: "At a time when the entire country was facing the worst pandemic in over 100 years, Assam hardly had any PPE Kits. My wife took the courage of coming forward and donating around 1500 free of cost to the govt to save lives. She didn’t take a single penny." 

The allegations are ''false, imaginary, malicious and can be attributed as the handiwork of a certain section with vested interests,'' Government spokesman Pijush Hazarika, who is also the state's minister for water resources and information and public relations told reporters.

''Why are the two organizations (who made the claims) not going to the Court if they have evidence instead of making false and baseless allegations?'' he added. On June 1 two digital media organizations - New Delhi-based 'The Wire' and Guwahati-based 'The Crosscurrent' in a joint investigative report claimed that the Assam government had placed four COVID-19 related emergency medical supply orders most likely without following proper process.

Accordingly, orders for PPE kits were placed with 35 firms and finally, only nine firms could supply them to the government. An order of only Rs 85 lakh was placed with the firm referred to by the portals, he said. Some PPE kits were arranged under corporate social responsibility (CSR) but not a single paise went from the government. ''So how can a scam or a scandal take place ?" Hazarika asked.

Earlier, the opposition Congress, Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) had separately demanded a high-level probe by CBI, ED or any other central agencies into the alleged irregularities in supply of PPE kits in 2020 by firms linked to Sarma's wife when he was the health minister in the previous BJP government in the state. The chief minister's wife Riniki Sarma Bhuyan, tweeted that in the first week of the pandemic not a single PPE kit was available in Assam.

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