Mumbai, Sep 11 (PTI) Allowing private laboratories to conduct RT-PCR and antibody tests for the coronavirus outbreak instead of an agency of the Centre by the Maharashtra government had resulted in 'loot' of Rs 270 crore due to difference in test rates, BJP leader Pravin Darekar said on Friday.
The leader of opposition in the Legislative Council claimed the Centre's HLL Lifecare Ltd was offering such tests as lower rates but the Uddhav Thackeray government opted for private laboratories, leading to a loss of Rs 270 crore.
'This loot must be probed by a retired judge. The Centre's agency had, on July 7, said it would conduct each RT-PCR test for Rs 1,700. However, at the time, the state government fixed the rate at Rs 1,900-Rs 2,200 for private laboratories. On August 19, the Centre's agency said it would conduct the RT-PCR test for Rs 795,' Darekar said.
'The difference in rates of the Centre's authorised company and private laboratories was Rs 1,256. Now, if we consider that private laboratories conducted 50 per cent of the total tests in the state, they have conducted 19,34,096 tests so far,' he said.
'And people had to pay Rs 1,256 extra for each of the tests. That means people had to shell out Rs 242.92 crore more. Similarly, the HLL Lifecare offered antibody tests at Rs 291 as against the Rs 599 quoted by private laboratories. This difference comes to Rs 27 crore. In all, Rs 270 crore was looted,' he claimed.
Darekar said had HLL Lifecare been given the contract for testing, then people headed for the Konkan for Ganpati festivities from Mumbai in late August could have got themselves tested for the virus for Rs 796 instead of Rs 4,500.
This would have benefited 15 lakh people, he said.
The Maharashtra government had asked those wanting to travel to Konkan within 10 days of the start of the festival to get themselves tested for the infection.
He said the state government gave the contract to private entities rather than a Central government one as 'they wanted to make money'. PTI ENM BNM BNM