CHENNAI: BJP State president K Annamalai on Sunday alleged that the State health department is set to procure health mix and iron supplements for pregnant women from a private firm that may cause a loss of Rs 77 crore to the exchequer. He said the department is ignoring offers from State-run agencies to supply them at a much lower cost. Over 23.8 lakh lactating mothers were to be provided nutrition kits under the scheme.
Health Minister Ma Subramanian said the charges were baseless as the tender has not been finalized yet, and the BJP chief is erroneously comparing two different products. Annamalai, in a press conference held in Chennai, said the technical committee of the health department had earlier decided to drop the health mix supplied by the private firm and replace it with Aavin product to reduce cost. This decision, however, was reversed at the behest of certain individuals, Annamalai said.
“This will cause the government a loss of Rs 45 crore as the price of the health mix provided by the private firm is higher than Aavin’s one by 60%,” he said. The former police officer said the iron supplement, which is part of the kit, supplied by the private firm was costlier by Rs 180 compared to the one offered by the State-run agency. Annamalai said this will result in a loss of Rs 32 crore. The State must offer these tenders only to State-run agencies and prevent Rs 77-crore loss, Annamalai said.
Speaking to reporters later in the day, health minister Ma Subramanian questioned Annamalai’s assumptions and said the financial bids for the tender will only be opened in the next two days. “Let him prove that the tenders were awarded and a loss was incurred. Then the health department will take action. The CM is keen that malpractices should not happen in any department,” Subramanian said. The minister said that items available with Aavin will be procured from it and those that are not available will be procured from private players.
In a separate statement issued later in the day, the health minister said, “The 100mg folic acid syrup and elemental iron 20mg supplements cannot be compared as their usage is different. Similarly, the mothers’ health mix provided under Amma Maternal and Child Health Kits cannot be compared with dairy whitener, a milk powder, which doesn’t have nutritional value needed for mothers. Only the mothers’ health mix has nutritional values recommended by the WHO.”
BJP leader Annamalai also alleged that a particular real estate developer’s projects are being given approval within a few days while others have to wait for at least 200 days. He said BJP will file complaints with State authorities such as DVAC over the two issues and will approach courts if necessary. When contacted by TNIE, a senior Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority official denied the accusations and called them false.