At a time when Maharashtra continues to fight the catastrophic Covid-19, 113 out of 150 ventilators received through the PM Cares Fund have been found defective.
In this regard, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought to know on what action the Union government proposed to take for providing defective ventilators to hospitals of the Marathwada region of Maharashtra.
Justices R V Ghuge and B U Debadwar of the Aurangabad bench, hearing petitions pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, also said that, "deans of hospitals are competent to decide whether a ventilator is defective or not, and their opinion must be accepted".
As quoted by several news outlets, Chief Public Prosecutor D R Kale informed the division bench that the dean of the Government Medical College at Aurangabad received 150 ventilators through the PM CARES Fund. The hospital used 17 units, 41 were given to five private hospitals in Aurangabad and 55 were distributed to other districts. The remaining 37 were lying unboxed. In total, 113 ventilators which were put to use were found to be defective, and in every case, it affected the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
"There were serious problems of 'low inlet O2 pressure display' and the patients in some cases became 'hypoxic' (a condition caused by low oxygen levels in blood) even when put on the ventilator", it said.
'We find the situation regarding dysfunctional ventilators, supplied through the PM CARES Fund, to be quite serious,' the judges said, and directed the Union government to submit a reply on what action and remedial measures it proposed to take.
'We appreciate the Central government giving the ventilators but if it is likely to be a health risk or health hazard to the patients then the same cannot be used. It is better that you (Aurangabad district authorities) write to the government and send them (ventilators) back,' the court said.
The Union government should be told that the supplier company had sold inferior-quality ventilators, the court said. The Union government must state what action it planned to take against the company, it added.
'The company should not get away with this. It is the public exchequer's money," the high court said, adjourning the hearing to May 28.