Past and current promoters of Jyoti CNC had links with Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, I&B ministry had tried to defend the ventilators when The Wire first reported about them.
Mumbai: Ventilators for COVID-19 treatment ordered by the Indian government from a Gujarat-based firm called Jyoti CNC Automation did not receive a recommendation from a technical committee set up by the health ministry’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) as of July 20, according to documents obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Accordingly, even though the firm received an advance payment from the health ministry in May, their ventilators as of last month had not been installed in hospitals across the country.
Jyoti CNC Automation’s ‘Dhaman-1’ ventilators were at the centre of a controversy in May 2020, after Ahmedabad civil hospital superintendent J.V. Modi wrote to the state government’s medical services provider, saying that they were “not able to bring desired results” according to the head of the anaesthesia department.
As The Wire exclusively reported at the time, the current and past promoters of Jyoti CNC Automation have had connections to top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. Some of the company’s past promoters include one business family linked to the controversial gift of an expensive suit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Health ministry and PM CARES
On May 2020, 2020, the-then health secretary Preeti Sudan wrote a letter to PM adviser Bhaskar Khulbe, informing him that the ministry had placed orders for 58,850 ‘Made-in-India’ ventilators from 5 companies for a purchase order value of a little over Rs 2,332.2 crore.
These include 30,000 ventilators from Bharat Electronics Ltd, 350 from Allied Medical, 13,000 from AMTZ, 10,000 from Agva Healthcare and 5,000 from Jyoti CNC Automation.
DOHFW 2- Correspondence on Ventilators by The Wire on Scribd
Sudan noted and acknowledged that the PM-CARES fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation) had allotted Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of ‘Made in India ventilators’ and accordingly the manufacturers would be informed to give a “distinct identity to these ventilators by permanently fixing a PM-CARES logo at a prominent place”.
The health secretary also added that any shortfall in funds for the ventilators would be made up from the health ministry’s budget. “In case, the total purchase of Made in lndia Ventilators exceeds Rs 2000 crore, the balance amount would be paid from the budget of MoH&FW,” Sudan’s letter to Khulbe notes.
DGHS evaluation recommends only 40k ventilators
However, the health ministry’s response to a second RTI application filed by activist Anjali Bharadwaj, notes that after “successful clinical evaluation” by the Directorate General of Health Services, only 40,350 ventilators (out of 58,850 that were initially ordered) from 3 companies (out of the initial 5) were recommended for installation in various states.
The health ministry’s RTI response indicates that Jyoti CNC Automation and Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ), were dropped from the recommended suppliers list as of July 2020 despite receiving a total of Rs 22.5 crore in advance payment in May.
It is unclear whether the DGHS has conducted any new clinical evaluations over the last month that changed the ministry’s stance on Jyoti CNC and AMTZ’s machines — or whether these companies have responded to any possible feedback that was given by the ministry.
DOHFW 1- Details of Ventilators Supplied by The Wire on Scribd
According to the health ministry, as of August 3, only 0.27% of active COVID-19 cases were on ventilator support across the country and at no time were there more than 1% of cases needed ventilator support. In other words, less than 30,000 COVID-19 patients have required ventilator support since the beginning of the pandemic.
As domestic demand has not been high, on August 1 the Centre had lifted its export ban on ventilators and domestic manufacturers have since been able to sell their products in the global market.
Courtesy The Wire