Matter came to light during audit conducted by audit & accounts dept
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Kolkata, 6 March
SSKM, the state run premier hospital in the city, has purchased medical gases worth crores from a particular company ignoring the lowest bidder, without citing any reason.
The matter came to light during an audit conducted by the Indian Audit and Accounts Department. Documents available with The Statesman reveal that SSKM ignored the price  quoted by the lowest bidder and continued to take  medical gases with the existing company and paid Rs 3.93 crore for the period of two years. According to the audit report till 31 December 2012 the hospital has incurred an “ extra expenditure” of Rs 83.27 lakh. The report states, M/s B.O.C. India Ltd was selected for laying the pipeline and oxygen supply in SSKM Hospital for the period between May 2007 and May 2010 at Rs 50.96 per cubic meter of gas, excluding 4 per cent vat, with the provision for extension of two years on the basis of performance. The agreement was finalised by the assistant secretary, department of Health and Family Welfare, government of West Bengal.
The state health and family welfare department had invited a fresh tender in 2010. Indessa Gas Private limited was selected to supply gas in hospitals in the city at the rate Rs  40.17 per cubic metre.
Interestingly, the hospital extended the contract of the existing form  with the same rate for another two years which ended in May 2012.
The report mentioned that this was done when there was another bidder with the accepted rate of tender which was less by Rs 10.79 (Rs 50.96-Rs 40.17).
According to hospital records, BOC received Rs 3,93,27,952 for the period during 1.1.2011 to 31.12.2012 for supply of medical gases. The report stated: “Thus the government had to incur extra expenditure of Rs 83,27,092 due to purchase of oxygen gases at higher rate.” The hospital authority extended the contract with the company till the audit date, i.e. February 2013.
Even in September 2011, the hospital authority decided to install Centralised Medical Gas Pipe line for the new ITU and place work order in favour of BOC at a cost of Rs 61,24,195 with post facto approval of government. But as there was no system for recording the number of oxygen cylinders received for the new ITU from BOC, the hospital authority could not ascertain the total consumption of oxygen gases required for the unit. As a result, they had to depend on the supply agency regarding consumption and paid on the “basis of demand raised by them.”
A section of hospital staff questioned the way hospital authority favoured BOC violating rules and regulation. A senior hospital staff said: “There is no transparency in the hospital administration and this is not possible without the involvement of staff from the administrative section. It is very unfortunate that the amount of money could be used to purchase medicine and treatment for the poor.
Dr Debanjan Banerjee, said that he is not aware of any such matter. “I can only say that every thing is being done according to government order. But I am not aware of the particular anomaly,” he said.