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Bombay HC Asks Centre to Explain Defective Ventilators Provided Under PM-CARES

Bombay HC Asks Centre to Explain Defective Ventilators Provided Under PM-CARES

Representative image. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: Taking serious note of the defective ventilators provided under the PM-CARES Fund to hospitals in the Marathwada region in Maharashtra, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has asked the Centre to explain how it will address the issue. Of the 150 ventilators made available to several hospitals in the region, at least 113 have been found to have defects. The court, presided by the division bench of Justices Ravindra V. Ghuge and Bhalchandra U. Debadwar, asked the Centre for remedial measures to address the situation in the region.

The court, hearing a suo motu PIL based on media reports, also expressed its concern over the impact the defective ventilators had on patients who used them. Of the two defects, the court observed that the instances where “patients becoming hypoxic” when on ventilator could be “life threatening”.

These defective ventilators were manufactured by a company named Jyoti CNC and the model is called ‘Dhaman III’. Among the total ventilators, as many as 17 were deployed in the Government Medical College and Hospital, Aurangabad. Of them, six sets had developed serious flaws. Around 37 others available with the GMCH were yet to be “unboxed”. The dean of GMCH informed the court that since the existing ones were already seriously malfunctioning, new sets were not unboxed.

“We find a serious issue before us as regards the defective functioning of the ventilators. Except the 37 ventilators which are yet to be un-boxed, 113 ventilators put to use are found to be defective,” the court observed. The court also added that while it appreciated that the Central ministry has made ventilators available, faulty machines would only increase health risks to the patients.

“Let the government realise they had supplied inferior quality ventilators, let them go back and replace them with certain good quality ventilators. If the PM-CARES Fund is to be used for providing ventilators, it should be ventilators worthy of medical use, if they aren’t worthy of medical use, it is just a box,” the high court orally observed.

Observing that the malfunctioning of a lifesaving instrument could put lives of patients in danger, the court on Tuesday, May 25, directed Assistant Solicitor General Ajay G. Talhar to inform it about the correctional methods the Centre would adopt in case the ventilators are found to be defective.

Also read: Company That Got Rs 373-Crore PM CARES Order Never Made Ventilators Before

The magnitude of the problem was captured in chief public prosecutor D.R. Kale’s submission talking about several letters received by the state government from private hospitals complaining about the defective ventilators.

“The letters received by the authorities from the private hospitals who were distributed 41 ventilators, indicate that not a single ventilator is functional and these private hospitals have therefore declined to utilise them as a serious threat to the life of the patients, exists,” the court noted in the order.

Most of these hospitals have asked the authorities to take the defective ventilators back. Similar concerns were raised by government hospitals too. The dean of the Swami Ramanand Teerth Rural government medical college has also said in writing that none of the ventilators supplied to them are “worthy of being put to use”.

The court observed that the companies providing faulty ventilators ought to be held accountable. “It is the state exchequer money, it’s not bounty to be distributed,” the court observed. While the ventilators procured from Jyoti CNC were flawed, 74 other ventilators supplied by several industrialists including Garware Polyester, Bajaj Auto, Hindalco etc. are “perfectly operational and flawless”. The court took note of this.

Maharashtra is not the only state to have complained about faulty ventilators procured under the PM-CARES Fund. Last week, similar concerns were raised by hospitals in Jharkhand. In a virtual interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jharkhand’s biggest government hospital, Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), had flagged concerns about non-functional ventilators given to it through the PM-CARES Fund.

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