Chandigarh Hospitals Write to Union Govt on 'Faulty' PM-CARES Ventilators

All of these ventilators came from the Gujarat firm Jyoti CNC Automation, whose current and past promoters have had connections to top BJP leaders.

New Delhi: All three government hospitals in Chandigarh which received ventilators under the PM-CARES fund have complained to the health department and Union government of technical issues with the machines, The Tribune has reported.

These ventilators were provided to the three hospitals during the significant surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the second wave, in early May. Out of a total of 44 ventilators, 20 were given to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, 10 to the Government Medical College and Hospital and 14 to the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital.

The director of the Government Medical College and Hospital told the news outlet that five out of the 10 ventilators “did not work properly.”

All of these ventilators came from the Gujarat firm Jyoti CNC Automation, the Tribune report noted.

The firm’s ‘Dhaman-1’ ventilators were at the centre of a controversy last year, 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”.

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.

Notably, a senior health official told Tribune that the Chandigarh hospitals had asked the Union government (under whose jurisdiction the Union Territory falls) for ventilators from the company Hamilton Medical when information was sought from them on ventilator requirement.

“However, the ministry asked to send a fresh requirement without mentioning the brand name. The ventilators were assessed by all three hospitals and technical issues were found in operating these,” the unnamed official told Tribune.

Also read: Behind Ahmedabad’s Ventilator Controversy, a Backstory of Connections to Top BJP Leaders

Toll-free numbers connecting hospitals to the manufacturer would be given to the latter so that issues can be solved, the official said.

The report submitted by the hospitals to the health department was forwarded to the Union government as well.

Similar issues with ventilators received under the PM-CARES fund were also reported by Chandigarh hospitals last year. The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research had then said that ventilators it received were sub-standard in quality.

“At least 237 of the 320 ventilators received through the PM CARES Fund at three government medical colleges in Punjab were found defective and lying non-functional in early May,” the Tribune report noted.

In early June this year, following complaints from hospitals, the Bombay high court had said that if any ventilators supplied by the Centre to Maharashtra are found to be defective, then these devices should be replaced. The court had significantly said that it will not allow “experiments” to be carried out on COVID-19 patients and that any loss of life caused by these ventilators would be the Centre’s responsibility.

Last year, The Wire had reported after accessing documents through the Right to Information (RTI) Act that ventilators ordered by the Union government from Jyoti CNC Automation had not received a recommendation from a technical committee set up by the health ministry’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) until July 2020.

Jyoti CNC Automation, along with Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone, had together already received a total of Rs 22.5 crore in advance payment from the Union government in May 2020.