How KMSCL may have procured bleaching powder sans tender at inflated price

Until two years ago, bleaching powder was procured by floating tenders after including the product in the category of “essential drugs”. Photo: Manorama Online

Kozhikode: Yet another suspected shady purchase has surfaced at the Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited (KMSCL).

The Rs 1-crore clandestine deal likely took place in the procurement of bleaching powder. The corporation decided to buy over 13 lakh kg of bleaching powder at Rs 47.08 per kg even without inviting quotations after rejecting an offer by a company based in Kerala to supply the product at Rs 38 per kg.

As a result, Rs 6.12 crore had to be spent for the product which would have been available at Rs 4.94 crore.

Until two years ago, bleaching powder was procured by floating tenders after including the product in the category of “essential drugs”.

Kunnath Chemicals based in Palakkad was the supplier of the product for a long period of time. Even though the company was barred after it was found that its product did not contain 30% chlorine, the prohibition was withdrawn five months later. It was after this that bleaching powder was taken off the list of “essential drugs” and the practice of procuring it without floating tenders through the Karunya Scheme was started.

New conditions stipulating that the product should contain 32% chlorine, have a shelf life of two years, and that it should be supplied in packages of 1 kg were brought in.

Experts in the sector pointed out that bleaching powder has a maximum shelf life of only six months and that it was fixed as two years in order to serve the interests of some sections.

It was under this new quotation that the order for buying 9,85,370 kg of bleaching powder was given to Parkins Enterprises at Rs 47.08 per kg and Banke Bihari Chemicals at Rs 47.20 per kg.

There was no bar on Kunnath Chemicals submitting the quotation since the procurement was being done through Karunya. The company had reportedly informed the KMSCL authorities that it was prepared to supply bleaching powder at a rate below Rs 39 per kg. Nevertheless, the Corporation decided to go ahead with the deal for buying the product from Parkins. Incidentally, the policy of the government is that small-scale industrial units in the State could be given orders even if the price is higher by 15%.

Only 60% of the quoted quantity was given to Parkins under the purchase order 2937 dated 30-07-2022. The remaining order, amounting to 7,45,070 kg, was given to Banke Bihari company.

Even though there was a move to place a fresh order for buying 3.75 lakh kg of bleaching powder from these companies, it has been put on hold by the authorities.

Earlier, several KMSCL purchases during the coronavirus  pandemic had come under a graft cloud.  

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