The Gorakhpur tragedy and its aftermath

Former oxygen supplier questions U.P. govt for terminating contract

The room containing oxygen tanks at the BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

While the government probes the role of the private agency supplying oxygen in the deaths of children in the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, the hospital’s former gas supplier has alleged that its tender was terminated in March without notice.

Modi Chemical Private Limited (MCPL), Gorakhpur, said that the hospital abruptly stopped taking its supplies on March 30 and handed the tender to another company based in Allahabad, Imperial Gases Limited, on a trial basis.

 

MCPL director Praveen Modi said that his company was supplying cylinders to the hospital for the past 15 years until March 30, when his vehicle stocked with cylinders was sent back. “We always maintained the required supply of cylinders. We even supplied oxygen to the hospital during the grid failure in India. What was the compulsion that they stopped our supply and gave the tender to a new company from Allahabad more than 300 km away? Oxygen is needed for urgencies and emergencies,” Mr. Modi said.

He further said that the hospital still owe him ₹ 20 lakh for the previous supplies. Despite the pending payment, Mr. Modi says he supplied cylinders to the hospital on August 10 and 11 for free “on humanitarian grounds.”

Mr. Modi also claimed that the contract was terminated despite his company supplying cheaper cylinders than the new company, which was hired on trial basis. “We had received the best supplier certificate,” he noted.

 

Imperial Gases director Sumit Luthra, however, dismissed that he had received any favours from the government and said that his company was allotted the job for its “favourable supply schedule.”

He added that the company was allotted the supply in March on a “trial basis,” but was still to acquire the permanent tender.

“If I was favoured, would I have not already received the tender?” Mr. Luthra asked, adding that his company supplied only cylinders to the hospital and not liquid oxygen.

“The main supplier of liquid oxygen to BRD is Pushpa Sales. We are the alternate supplier of cylinders,” Mr. Luthra said.

Mr. Luthra contradicted Mr. Modi’s claim that the Imperial Gases was costlier than the MCPL. However, both refused to divulge details.

He also said that his company had been contracted to supply 50 cylinders daily, but off late had increased the supply to around 100 per day. Imperial Gases also claimed that it did not break the chain of supply during the crisis. “The hospital did not inform us of any shortage. Why would they tell us about their internal management issues? But we continued to supply as per their order. On August 9, we supplied 100 cylinders. Then on August 12, we supplied 150. We also dispatched 10 tons of liquid oxygen to Gorakhpur even when we don’t supply it to the hospital,” Mr. Luthra said.

Uttar Pradesh director general of medical education K.K. Gupta and Uttar Pradesh additional director of medical education did not respond to phone calls or SMS.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 2:52:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/former-oxygen-supplier-questions-government-for-terminating-contract/article19489972.ece

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