As hospitals started sending out SOS messages pleading for oxygen amid the second Covid-19 wave in India, viral posts started doing the rounds suggesting that Maharashtra and Delhi have not adequately spent centrally allotted PM CARES funds. The claim that the chief ministers failed to use the funds to build PSA oxygen plants is misleading. To begin with, no such funds have been allotted to the states in the first place.
The funds were allotted by PM CARES to the Central Medical Supply Store (CMSS) - an autonomous body of the of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The claim has taken various forms, through posters and social media posts it suggested that Maharashtra and Delhi were allotted funds from PM CARES to install ten and eight oxygen plants respectively, but could only build one each.
1. Did PM CARES allot money to states?
No. PM CARES did not allot money to the states.
In January, PM CARES allotted money - specifically ₹201.58 crores for the installation of 162 dedicated Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants to the CMSS, a central government body. The CMSS was responsible for evaluating and selecting vendors, fixing the price, and ensuring the selected vendors delivered the goods.
The releases outline the following:
- The plants went to hospitals identified by and in consultation with the state
- Routine operation and maintenance was to be carried out by the hospital/state
- The plants came with three years of warranty and seven years of annual maintenance contract
- After the expiry of the above time period (a total of 10 years) on central expenditure, full maintenance had to be carried out by the state
Among other states, Maharashtra got 10 such plants sanction, and Delhi 8.
The CMSS released a tender in October 2020 inviting bids for 150 such plants. The hospitals where these plants would be set up were also identified. Delhi was to get eight plants and Maharashtra would get 10. Further, in this tender, the role of the hospital under each state has also been demarcated. They were tasked with managing space, electrical supply, faults, civil repairs, pipeline works, and leakages among other things. It is to be noted that the first tender was released eight months after the Modi government imposed a lockdown to curb the pandemic.
The plants had to be established by the CMSS and was funded directly by the central government.
2. How many plants have been installed?
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare lists out the data on how many plants have been installed.
In a series of tweets, the ministry showed that out of 162 plants sanctioned, only 33 have been installed as of April 18, 2021. Of these 33, one was installed in Delhi and one in Maharashtra. States like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh also got one each. Himachal Pradesh got four and Madhya Pradesh got five.
The full list can be viewed in the tweet below.
The full list of plants sanctioned in January and plants installed as of April 18 can be found in the table below.
The ministry also states that it plans to take the number of plants installed to 59 by the end of April 2021, and to 80 by the end of May 2021.
According to Scroll.in, the hospitals and the companies to whom the contracts had been awarded for supply traded charges at each other for the delay. Hospitals say that they have made space for the machines, but are yet to obtain them or get them installed. Some companies on the other hand, said that they had finished all procurement at their end, but the hospitals were not prepared with adequate infrastructure.
The Print also referred to such companies saying that the installation of the machines in the hospital was due to a lack of space in hospitals. "The usual response was there is no space. The real reason though was probably vested interests in continued procurement of oxygen rather than generating the entire requirement onsite," an industry source told the publication.
3. Delhi and Maharashtra deny receiving funds
The ruling parties in the states in question, Congress in Maharashtra and the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi have denied receiving any funds from the central government or PM CARES for the establishment of these oxygen plants.
Commenting on this, Congress's spokesperson in Maharashtra Sachin Swant told BOOM, "Maharashtra did not get a single penny to build, install or run these plants. The state had nothing at all to do with it, except give a list of government hospitals to the Centre where the plants could come up."
AAP has also clarified that they have received no such funds for the plant; calling it a 'false narrative' by the central government and using it to fire political salvos back at them. The Delhi government, in a statement, said that the oxygen plants were to be set up by Union Health Ministry through PM CARES fund, and "not a single rupee" was given to state governments. "All these plants were supposed to be installed by December 2020 and handed over to state governments. However, the central government gave the contract of 140 of these plants to one single vendor who ran away," the statement added.
"The fact that the PSA plant has not been made operational at even Centre's own Safdarjung hospital shows that the Centre is caught in a web of lies," said the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi.
This story has been published as a part of Ekta Consortium – a collaboration of six fact-checking organisations in India.
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