V D Satheesan | Photo: PTI
Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF opposition in Kerala on Tuesday alleged it was "mysterious" that two fires occurred in close proximity to each other in two warehouses of state-run Kerala Medical Services Corporation (KMSCL) in the state. Referring to the two fires – one at a KMSCL warehouse in Thumba here in the early hours of Tuesday and another last week at its godown in Kollam – Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Assembly V D Satheesan contended that the blazes occurred amidst a Lok Ayukta probe into alleged graft in procurement of medicines and medical equipment during COVID-19. Satheesan further contended that such fires, when there is an ongoing probe or accusations of corruption by the UDF, have become commonplace during the tenure of the ruling Left front in Kerala.
He alleged that when the Enforcement Directorate and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were probing a case, there was a fire in the protocol office of the Kerala Secretariat and a lot of items were destroyed in the blaze.
"Similarly, when a probe is going on with regard to the alleged scam in procurement of AI cameras, there was fire in the office of Additional Principal Secretary, Industries. So, such fires have become usual in this government. Evidence of serious corruption is being destroyed in such fires," the LoP claimed while speaking to reporters here.
With regard to the fire at a KMSCL warehouse in Kinfra Industrial Park at Thumba here, Satheesan said the blaze there and a recent one at a Kollam godown of the state-run entity occurred while the Lok Ayukta was looking into alleged corruption in procurement of medicines and medical equipment during COVID-19.
"Hundreds of crores worth of corruption took place in procurements by KMSCL during COVID-19. We had pointed it out back then with proof. We approached the Lok Ayukta with a complaint and it was looking into it.
"Amidst this, two fires occurred in close proximity at two warehouses of KMSCL in the state. It is mysterious. Initial reports indicate that medicines and medical equipment bought during COVID-19 were destroyed in the fire, besides huge quantities of other drugs," he alleged.
A fireman lost his life while fighting to control the blaze at the KMSCL godown in Thumba on Tuesday.
He also contended that it was unbelievable that a fire broke out there less than a week after a similar incident at a godown of the state-run entity in Kollam.
"In Kollam, the fire occurred due to bleaching powder. Same appears to be the cause for the fire at the Thumba godown. After the first fire, the causal agent should have been removed from all warehouses of KMSCL and kept away. No such steps were taken. There has been dereliction of duty on the part of the officials," he contended.
He also questioned why large amounts of expired medicines were kept in the warehouses. "Some of these medicines had expired back in 2014 according to information we have received,” he alleged.
The LoP further alleged that KMSCL has become a hub of corruption and that is why the IAS officers who have been appointed there as Managing Directors do not stay in the post for long as they were afraid of getting embroiled in some graft case.
"That is why there have been nine MDs at KMSCL in the last two years," he contended.