Kuwait City: Former health minister and MLA KK Shailaja said that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was aware of the decision to purchase the PPE kits at a higher rate and he told her that the Disaster Management Act gives the freedom to make such decisions when required.
She was speaking at a meeting here. On Friday, the Lok Ayukta had initiated a probe based on the complaint of a Congress leader alleging corruption in the purchases during the beginning of the pandemic.
"I had consulted the CM. He said we should collect sufficient kits from all possible markets. He also warned to ensure quality. I told him they charge Rs 1,500 for the product that was available for Rs 500 earlier. He said don't bother about the rate when lives are at stake. So the department placed an order for 50,000 kits. The market rate came down by the time we got 15,000 kits. So we cancelled the rest of the purchase," she said.
Shailaja also slammed the opposition for "overstating" the matter. "They claim we bought the kits of Rs 500 for Rs 15,000. I expect thorns along with flowers. We will deal with it," she said at the 'Manaveeyam 2022' event.
Shailaja is popular for handling the first wave of the Covid-19 in Kerala as its health minister. She was reportedly offered Magsaysay award for the same, which her party advised not to accept since the ‘award was named after an anti-Communist’.