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BJP MP, MLAs unearth bed-blocking racket in Bengaluru

Bengaluru City police commissioner Kamal Pant tweeted that a fraud and cheating case has been registered at Jayanagar police station
iranjan Kaggere
Last Updated : 05 May 2021, 01:38 IST
Last Updated : 05 May 2021, 01:38 IST
Last Updated : 05 May 2021, 01:38 IST
Last Updated : 05 May 2021, 01:38 IST

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Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya and BJP MLAs Satish Reddy, L A Ravi Subramanya and Uday Garudachar stumbled upon a well-oiled racket at the BBMP war rooms where beds are blocked in hospitals in the names of asymptomatic patients and later ‘sold’ to symptomatic patients for Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000.

Within hours of the leaders complaining to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, Bengaluru City police commissioner Kamal Pant tweeted that a fraud and cheating case has been registered at Jayanagar police station. “Two accused have been arrested and others are being interrogated for alleged fraud and irregularity. The case has been handed over to CCB for a detailed investigation,” Pant tweeted.

The BJP leaders, who were facing people’s wrath over the severe scarcity of hospital beds and were themselves unable to help people secure beds, investigated the entire process of bed allocation and explained why it is almost impossible for people to find a bed. The team, which visited the BBMP South war room, rapped the officials and later released audio recordings of the scamsters and hospital bed booking documents. The sudden action by the ruling BJP MP and MLAs against their own administrative machinery caught everybody by surprise.

Addressing the media, Surya said, “In the last five days of our investigation, we analysed more than 10,000 beds that were allocated and found anomalies. The officials at the war room would book beds in various private hospitals in the name of asymptomatic patients and later sell them to symptomatic patients.”

Referring to a particular case, Surya said, “In one incident, miscreants booked beds in 12 hospitals in the name of just one person 20 days after he tested positive for Covid-19. This is not just a disgusting scam but murder at a time when people are running from pillar to post seeking hospital beds to save their loved ones.”

The team, along with party workers, personally called up patients in whose names the beds were blocked.

Much to their surprise, the patients told them they never asked for a bed and had recovered after home isolation.

“In fact, none of them knew that ICU or oxygenated beds were blocked in their names until we called them and informed them about the development,” Surya explained.

He also appealed to people who may have paid these scamsters to provide the details and assured them of protection. “We will put such officials behind bars. Be it IAS or KAS. If we can’t put an end to this, what is the point in our continuing as MPs, MLAs?”

‘Midnight’ operation

Calling the perpetrators ‘vultures’, Surya said, “The entire operation would unfold either during midnight or in the small hours. In less than two minutes of blocking, beds are sold and patients are admitted to the hospital. How is this possible? Wouldn’t a patient require at least 45 minutes to one hour to reach the hospital? Why beds get filled up only at midnight and not during the day? This is largely due to war room officials’ connivance with Arogya Mitra and BBMP officials. I have brought this to the notice of the Chief Minister and he has assured us of a high-powered inquiry.”

The leaders discovered that a whopping 4,065 beds were unblocked in the last four to five days. “Every patient will have a 12-hour window from the time of blocking the hospital bed to getting admitted to the hospital. If the patient does not get admitted, the beds are unblocked. We were wondering how, in Bengaluru, which is witnessing 20,000 to 21,000 fresh cases every day, anyone would reject a bed. It was then we realised there are several sides to this scam,” Surya explained.

Narrating their plight in arranging for beds, Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy said, “Whenever I called, the BBMP officials and war room personnel would tell me that all beds have been blocked. Those behind this racket shall be sent to jail. We are forced to fight this out under our own government.” Reddy also alleged that despite the Centre allocating 780 ventilators, none of them has been installed in any of the hospitals despite their repeated requests.

Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya said officials stopped attending their calls and the scarcity of remdesivir drug was also part of officials’ scam. Chickpet MLA Uday Garudachar revealed that out of the 11,314 beds, 9,690 have been allocated from the BBMP side. “What happened to the remaining 1,624 beds and who has occupied them?” he questioned.

Software experts to help

Soon after complaining about the scam to the CM, Tejasvi Surya told media, “CM has ordered the officials to rope in leading software developers from globally reputed software giants in Bengaluru to design a robust foolproof software for allocation and management of hospital beds in Bengaluru and set a deadline of 3 to 4 days for designing of the software.”

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Published 04 May 2021, 19:05 IST

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