Romell Realtors gets work order to supply dura oxygen cylinders for three Covid-19 centres; firm has no medical field experience.

Questions about integrity be damned, the BMC has given another contract to Romell Realtors without calling for tenders, this time to supply jumbo oxygen cylinders to three civic-run facilities treating Covid-19 patients.

Mirror had reported last month that the construction company, which has several residential projects across the city, is neither a supplier nor a manufacturer of oxygen cylinders, beds and mattresses or humidifiers. But its lack of experience didn’t deter the BMC from awarding it a Rs 10.90-crore contract in May to supply beds and medical equipment to the Covid-19 care centre at Goregaon’s NESCO exhibition centre, without even calling for tenders.

Confident that it had got away with bending the rules—former chief secretary Ajoy Mehta hauled the BMC up over the work order and asked it to submit a report on the allegation of irregularity only after Mirror’s June 25 report—the civic body’s central purchase department awarded a second contract to the company on June 7 worth Rs 1.30 crore to supply 70 dura oxygen cylinders to the NSCI Covid-19 centre in Worli, Bhabha Hospital in Bandra and HBT Trauma Care Centre in Jogeshwari, again without following the due procedure.

Dura cylinders are vacuum-insulated liquid gas cylinders which allow storage of cryogenic gases like oxygen, argon, nitrogen and medical oxygen at a very low pressure. Their capacity is 25 times higher than conventional gas cylinders’.

The BMC isn’t even trying to hide that Romell Realtors is a blueeyed contractor. It failed to supply the 70 cylinders by the designated deadline of June 10, and got away with just a slap on the wrist instead of having its work order revoked: the BMC imposed a fine of Rs 9.9 lakh on it for the ‘delay’ and eventually asked it to deliver only 55 dura cylinders. Those deliveries have been made.

BJP MLA Ameet Satam, who had flagged the previous work order as well, pointed out in a complaint letter to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal that the civic body’s actions violate all standards of transparency. “Why is the work of supplying medical equipment given to a builder and that too without inviting tenders?” he wrote.

The NSCI Covid-19 centre in Worli is among the three facilities to which the company supplied dura oxygen cylinders (Photo by Deepak Turbhekar)

Satam told Mirror that he has asked for details of all contracts awarded by the BMC for Covid-19-related equipment since March, when the pandemic broke out. “The municipal commissioner must cancel all such orders given to Romell Realtors, initiate an inquiry, stop the payment, and invite short tenders for the supply of all equipment/items so that there is competition and transparency,” he said.

Additional Municipal Commissioner P Velrasu, who heads the central purchase department, said Romell Realtors was given the contract for the dura cylinders because “it was an emergency”. “Dura cylinders are not meant for the NESCO centre. Considering shortage of time and complaints about lack of oxygen cylinders at HBT Trauma Hospital and other peripheral hospitals, the department approached two oxygen players. One quoted very high rates. One responded, but said that it cannot supply more than 30 cylinders within three days. Romell said it could supply cylinders within the given time. Dura cylinders were purchased directly considering the shortage of time,” he said.

Velrasu said ex post facto sanction was taken from the municipal commissioner. “The central purchase department imposed a heavy penalty for the late supply of dura cylinders. Barring the contract for the dura cylinders, the department has no other work order with Romell.”

Romell Realtors said it was asked to urgently deliver the dura oxygen cylinders owing to its ‘success’ with the previous NESCO work order. It said it placed an order for 70 cylinders on the night the work order was issued, and delivered 10 of them to the NSCI centre on June 8, collectively 30 to HBT Trauma Care on June 9 and June 11, and 15 to Bhabha Hospital on June 13. It claimed it couldn’t meet the rest of the requirements because one of the manufacturers could not supply more than 45 cylinders.

Accusing the BMC of “unnecessarily” imposing a penalty on it without looking at its reply to a show-cause notice, it said the civic body is yet to pay for the 55 cylinders it delivered.

BMC sanitises Raj Bhavan campus after atleast 18 staff members test positive for COVID19


BMC sanitises Raj Bhavan campus after atleast 18 staff members test positive for COVID19


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