“Will Cooperate”: Mumbai Civic Body Chief On Care Centre Contracts Probe
Mumbai civic chief Iqbal Singh Chahal said jumbo COVID-19 care centres were set up on the Maharashtra government’s orders as he recorded his statement with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today in connection with alleged irregularities in award of contracts for health facilities during the pandemic.
Talking to reporters after emerging out of the ED office, where he recorded his statement for more than four hours, Mr Chahal said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was extending all cooperation to the central agency.
The BMC commissioner reached the ED office at Ballard Estate in south Mumbai around 11.40 am and walked out shortly after 4 pm.
The central financial crime probe agency had earlier summoned the senior bureaucrat to record his statement in the matter.
The IAS officer spearheaded the BMC’s response to the pandemic in the metropolis, where special health facilities were set up to treat coronavirus patients as the cases mounted.
The civic chief told reporters the situation could have gone out of control if quick preparations were not made to tackle COVID-19 in Mumbai, which recorded its first case in March 2020.
The BMC had started jumbo COVID-19 centres with instructions from the state government by acquiring some places and handing them over for setting up field hospitals, he said.
“The municipal corporation outsourced the required staff to meet the requirement of COVID-19 field hospitals. Due to this lives of lakhs of people were saved as they got timely medical treatment,” Mr Chahal said.
After getting information about some of the facility providers submitting forged documents for bagging contracts, the BMC had asked the police to verify details by writing a letter, he said.
“I have informed the ED that we are extending all cooperation from the BMC’s side. I will cooperate with the agency and (appear before it) if called again for inquiry,” said the IAS officer.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kirit Somaiya had alleged irregularities in setting up COVID-19 centres by the country’s richest civic body which is currently under an administrator as the five-year term of its elected representatives ended early last year and fresh polls are due.
The former Lok Sabha MP had also filed a complaint at the Azad Maidan police station in south Mumbai, based on which an FIR (first information report) was registered against a hospital management firm and some persons for allegedly submitting fake documents to obtain contracts for COVID-19 care centres.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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