Commission play leads to delay in plant construction resulting in lack of oxygen for COVID infected

KAILALI: The Sudurpaschim province is currently in dire need of oxygen. The province needs 500 cylinders of oxygen daily. However, not even half of the cylinder is available. It has been alleged that the negligence and delay of the Ministry of Social Development have created a shortage of oxygen in the province.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning had in December last year sent a budget of Rs 130 million for the production of an oxygen plant, ambulance and hearses in the province. However, after only five months, the Ministry of Social Development has finally started its work.

The Ministry of Social Development has given Rs. 20 million to Seti Provincial Hospital and Rs. 8 million to six other district hospitals in the Sudurpaschim Province besides Dadeldhura to produce the oxygen plant in April.

However, no district hospital other than Seti Provincial Hospital has published the information so far. While the number of deaths due to lack of oxygen is increasing in the hilly districts, the information has not been released yet.

“It has been delayed to authorize the hospitals due to delay in disbursement of funds,” said Ram Bista, secretary at the Ministry of Social Development. “We have now started the tender process through the concerned office.”

The Ministry of Social Development had sought a financial agreement of Rs. 270 million with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning last October for the prevention and control of the COVID pandemic and treatment of those infected.

The ministerial decision provided a financial agreement of Rs. 128.1 million for the purchase of an oxygen plant, an ambulance with ventilator, hearse, temporary COVID hospital with 50 beds and 1000 vial remdesivir from the budget.

According to Nirmal Dhakal, Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning, a letter has been sent to the Ministry of Social Development seeking financial assistance of Rs.128.1 million to buy A class ventilator, ambulance and remdesivir (1000 vial)a large oxygen plant costing Rs. 20 million and six mini oxygen plants worth Rs.8/8 million each compiling 40.8 million in total as per decision made on December 8.

“We have provided the budget on time,” he said, adding that “Due to the negligence of the ministry, the work could not be done so far. Had there been work on time, there would be enough oxygen available in the province today.”

There are also allegations that the construction of the oxygen plant has been delayed due to disagreement in the Ministry of Social Development. “There has been no agreement so far on who will get how much commission,” said a senior ministry official. “The minister and the secretary have to answer about this .”

He claimed that the ministry had given authority to the district hospitals to abdicate their responsibilities. “How can the districts do what  ministry cannot do?” He asked.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Social Development Narendra Karki, on the other hand, said that the work was delayed due to a delay in receiving the letter from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning. He clarified that there was no issue of commission in it.

“We received a letter from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning on 22nd February. We registered a letter on 23rd February and moved ahead with the work,” he said. ’

He informed that the Ministry of Social Development had prepared two models saying that the district could not make the specification.

‘The cost estimate has to be prepared. Then the information should be extracted. The Public Procurement Act has become an obstacle, ”he said.“ We have sent two specification models to the district to make the work easier. ”

 

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