Rs 41 lakh for coronavirus safety kits that should have cost Rs 7 lakh and did not even include N-95 masks - these are the striking allegations that the central government has asked the Congress administration in Punjab to quickly investigate following a letter from an MP of the state's ruling party.
Congress MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla, who had given a government hospital in Amritsar Rs 1 crore from his Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund, part of which was used to purchase the personal protective equipment or PPE, had flagged a "deliberate delay" in the probe in a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh last week.
"It's a matter of great concern that how heartless profiteers didn't even spare us in these trying times and how management and office-bearers at different levels are trying to supress the probe and save the culprits," the lawmaker wrote in the letter on June 16.
He also alleged that an IAS officer leading the probe was transferred at the instance of profiteers.
Seemingly unconvinced by the state administration's efforts to investigate the allegations, Mr Aujla also sent a letter to the central government on the same date.
This week, the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation wrote a letter to the state government, requesting necessary action and a time-bound investigation into the alleged scam.
In April, medical staff at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Amritsar had rejected around 2,000 PPE kits alleging that they were defective and not include N-95 masks. They also accused authorities of paying around Rs 41 lakh for the kits, which according to the staff should not have cost more than Rs 7 lakh.
Punjab reported two more deaths from coronavirus on Friday, taking the count to 122, while 188 fresh cases pushed the infection tally in the state to 4,957. Amritsar is at the top the COVID-19 tally in the state with 852 coronavirus cases.