Corruption is 'second pandemic' during COVID medical emergency: TII

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New Delhi, May 5 (PTI) Governments of states and union territories must immediately launch a crackdown on black-marketing of essential medical items and services across the country, demanded anti-graft watchdog Transparency International India (TII), which called corruption the 'second pandemic' during the COVID-19 crises.

Amid the unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases across the country, the much-needed resources for COVID-19 response, including oxygen, medicines, ambulances, beds and ventilators are being provided to patients at exorbitant prices.

Every aspect of COVID-19 treatment is as an opportunity for graft in India, alleged the TII.

'It's high time that governments (Union and states) should pro-actively manage the corruption risks that have emerged due to the extraordinary mismatch between demand and supply during this pandemic. Governments must immediately launch a crackdown on black-marketing of essential medical items and services across the country,' said Rama Nath Jha, Executive Director, TII, adding that corruption in these times is like the 'second pandemic'.

Beside creating medical facilities to meet the growing demand for COVID-19 essentials, the TII stressed upon setting up of a 'functional and constructive partnership' between governments, civil society, and philanthropic institutions to improve the response to the current crisis.

It also asked all the governments to immediately set up 'anti-corruption control rooms' up to the district-level for relief on phone or other technology platforms.

'Indicate the name and contact number of the person responsible for the control room. Undertake to reply within a week all RTI applications filed, announce adequate guidelines and streamline institutional frameworks to combat corruption for pandemic-related cases,' said the TII in its statement.

India's total active number of cases has reached 34,87,229 and accounts for 16.87 per cent of the total infections. A net increase of 40,096 cases was recorded in the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours. PTI MG KJ