BHUBANESWAR: The Lokayukta on Monday directed the State Vigilance to make a preliminary inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of masks and PPEs by the State government during the Covid-19 outbreak and submit the report by February 15, 2021.
In his order, the Lokayukta said the Vigilance probe would be on the reference whether essential pharmaceutical goods and critical equipment including three layer masks were purchased at higher rates with an ulterior motive for wrongful gain. The Vigilance will have to submit the preliminary report within two months of getting the reference.
The Lokayukta observed that complaints have to be viewed from a standpoint that the scourge of Covid-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, causing unforeseen consequences and hazards and in a situation like this, response of the government has to be necessarily an out of box one. “The people have a right to know whether the response of the government to a given situation, like the present pandemic, has been an honest one and upto their desired expectations,” the order stated.
The Lokayukta asked the Director, Vigilance, to ensure that the inquiry under his supervision is conducted by a competent officer not below the rank of SP/ASP having impeccable integrity.
In their petitions, both the complainants Susanta Kumar Padhi and Sudarsan Das had alleged that the respondent number 1 was the chief architect of the purchase of masks, PPEs and other equipment. They had alleged that his complicity was well made out when he made a statement that blank cheques had been issued for the purchases.
They further alleged that the masks of same quality were purchased by different states at much lower prices. Other pharmaceutical goods and critical care equipment were purchased at much higher rates by the officials with an ulterior motive of wrongful gain, they added. However, the officials denied the charges. Reacting to the order, Das said his stand has been vindicated.