With the State reporting a spike in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa seems to be upset with the handling of the pandemic by the bureaucracy in the State. The Chief Minister, it is learnt, was upset with severe shortcomings in decision-making by the officials on ground in charge of handling the pandemic.
Sources in the Chief Minister’s secretariat said that he had a list of issues that he raised with officials at the COVID-19 task force meeting here on Monday that included decision to hire beds on rent at a very high cost. Even on Sunday, he had vented his ire at officials over the yet-to-be-functional centralised bed allocation system.
“He wanted to know with whose authorisation a huge number of cots have been hired at a very high cost. The cost of beds came to light only two days back when the Chief Minister visited the COVID Care Centre at BIEC,” sources said. The Chief Minister said that if the cots were to be purchased, they could have been given to government-run hostels or hospitals after the pandemic, sources said.
Sources said that the cots have been hired at a whopping ₹800 per day, which translates to ₹24,000 a month whereas a good quality cot in the market was available between ₹7,000 and ₹10,000. “At the end of the four-month contract, the government would have spent a fortune without creating any asset,” sources said.
The Chief Minister is learnt to have asked the officials to explore the possibility of buying out those beds at an acceptable rate from the contractor who has supplied them. “The contractor has also agreed to sell them to the government.”
“The pace in which officials have been working came under severe criticism. Some of the decisions made nearly a fortnight ago still have to see the light of the day, which riled the Chief Minister,” sources said.
Shortage of ambulances that are being highlighted in the media was among the talking points. “Despite a 15-day window, the ambulance shortage issue has not been sorted out. He wanted to know why there was a delay. He went to the extent of asking if he has to go and purchase or organise ambulances personally on ground,” sources added.
Lab testing, sources said, has not seen an increase so far despite the number of cases increasing and a huge backlog. “Mr. Yediyurappa asked why laboratories were not testing adequately and wanted to know what officials have been doing to address the issue,” sources said, adding that while the officials were at the receiving end even the role of Ministers concerned were being questioned. Sources said that Mr. Yediyurappa has told officials that all the issues should be sorted out before the next meeting, and that he would not be ready to hear any explanation over non-action when he convenes another meeting after a week.