Police conduct sting operation, arrest two suspected to have contacts in BBMP war room
In an embarrassing turn of events for the government, a group of ruling party legislators led by Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya, accompanied by three MLAs from the South Zone, live streamed an exposé of alleged corruption in bed allocation for COVID-19 patients by the city’s civic body. The alleged scam in the South Zone war room has raised questions on the integrity of the bed allocation system across the city.
Mr. Surya and the legislators – Ravi Subramanya, Uday Garudachar and Satish Reddy – held a press conference and alleged that beds were being blocked in the name of asymptomatic patients in home isolation, only to be sold to others hours later by staff in South Zone war room. In a dramatic turn of events, Mr. Surya and the three MLAs visited the war room in Jayanagar armed with bed allocation details and confronted officers.
“There has been no transparency in bed allocation. I had to threaten a senior officer in the wee hours of Tuesday that unless we were provided with the raw data of bed allocation, I would stage a protest in front of the war room. A prima facie analysis of the data revealed the scam,” he said.
The legislators furnished three audio clips, of them calling up patients and asking them about beds being allotted in their name, only to find them at home or admitted in a private hospital. “We have found cases where ICU beds were booked 12 times in the name of one patient,” Mr. Surya said. He alleged this was affecting genuine patients in need and especially the poor who cannot afford treatment at private hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Jayanagar police while conducting a sting operation arrested a social worker and her nephew for selling beds for anywhere between ₹20,000-40,000. They believe that the duo have ties to BBMP war room personnel.
Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said that action would be taken against those who are involved in the BBMP bed blocking scam. He said that he would be meeting with Mr. Surya to get more details.
The scam has come as an embarrassment to the BJP government especially as it was unearthed by their own party members. KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar took a dig at the legislators, congratulating them for “exposing corruption by their party government and corporation”, and demanded that they "immediately name the BJP Minister responsible for people suffering so much".
Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commissioner, BBMP, has tasked Kumar Pushkar, nodal officer, bed management, BBMP, to conduct a probe and submit a report. Mr. Pushkar held a meeting on Tuesday and reviewed the software as well, and will submit a report on how to plug loopholes in the software that has probably made such bed blocking possible. He is expected to submit his report on Wednesday.
Elected representatives, facing pressure from people seeking beds, but are unable to help them are angry with bureaucrats and private agencies to whom the management of call centres has been outsourced, sources said. Following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, where the issue was raised Mr. Yediyurappa has appointed two senior ministers Basavaraj Bommai and R. Ashok to oversee bed management in the State.
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