Congress Seeks Judicial Probe Into Use of Dhaman-1 Ventilators in Gujarat, Says Not Certified by DCGI

The Congress on Saturday demanded a judicial probe into the use of a ventilator on COVID-19 patients in Gujarat that, it said, has not been approved by the DCGI, alleging the mortality rate was highest at the hospital these machines were installed.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said almost six weeks after Dhaman-1 ventilators were installed at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital on April 4, doctors there sought more ventilators claiming these machines did not work on patients and were not capable.

The Dhaman-1 ventilator has been developed by Rajkot-based firm Jyoti CNC which "donated" 866 of them to the state government last month in view of acute shortage of the machines, according to senior Gujarat government official.

A row erupted when the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital wrote to the government, stating that the ventilators were not up to the mark, and sought sophisticated machines.

The senior official, however, sought to put the controversy to rest, saying Dhaman-1 was "as good as other such machines" and was certified by a Centrally accredited laboratory.

On Saturday, Khera alleged the Vijay Rupani government projected the mechanised AMBU (Artificial Manual Breathing Unit) bag as ventilator, "playing with the lives of patients".

"Why was Dhaman-1 approved and installed when it had been tested on just one patient? Why was Dhaman-1 approved and installed without a licence by DCGI (Drug Controller General of India)," he asked.

"We also want to know if the PM Cares Fund was used to buy 5,000 pieces of Dhaman-1 through HLL Lifecare. All these answers can only be found through an independent judicial inquiry," Khera said.

Training his guns on Chief Minister Rupani, he asked why Gujarat had "such shocking data" on COVID-19 patients as 11 per cent of the total coronavirus cases in the country were in the state, but 22 per cent of the deaths related to COVID-19 in the country were from Gujarat.

"Why this high mortality, Why the high mortality in Ahmedabad in particular and in Ahmedabad, why the highest mortality is in the civil hospital, where these machines were installed," he asked.

"Whatever be your compulsions, Mr Rupani, we understand there are compulsions. But you cannot play with the lives of the people, just because you are in a position of power," he alleged.

He alleged the machines were donated under CSR funds by a company in which a Surat-based businessman, who donated the monogrammed suit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi which was worn by him during former US President Barack Obama's visit to India, has a stake.

He asked why Dhaman-1 was marketed within and outside the state as a "ventilator when it is not a ventilator".

The Congress leader asked why was Dhaman-1 allowed to be sold to other states and why was HLL Lifecare, a PSU, allowed to order 5,000 pieces.