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Remdesivir supplied by Surat BJP was from two distributors: MLA

The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Congress MLA and leader of opposition of Gujarat Assembly, Paresh Dhanani, seeking the court’s intervention against the “illegal and unauthorised distribution of Remdesivir injection” from the BJP’s office in Surat in April.

Surat BJP MLA Harsh Sanghavi has filed an affidavit in the Gujarat High Court stating that the Remdesivir injections it distributed as an initiative by party’s state chief CR Paatil in April this year were sourced through two distributors who supplied the stock to a medical store each in Surat and Navsari.

The affidavit filed on Monday stated that of the total 2,506 injections that the BJP got, two corporate entities — Anupam Rasayan, a chemical manufacturing firm with units in Surat and Bharuch, and Shott Amusement, a family entertainment centres chain with presence in Ahmedabad and Surat, paid for 1,500 injections by bank transfers, while the rest 1,006, sourced from Kiran Hospi-tal were paid for by “certain volunteers/social workers” in cash.

The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Congress MLA and leader of opposition of Gujarat Assembly, Paresh Dhanani, seeking the court’s intervention against the “illegal and unauthorised distribution of Remdesivir injection” from the BJP’s office in Surat in April.

Another affidavit filed by Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) commissioner Hemant Koshia the same day stated that following the allegations of hoarding and black-marketing, the Surat FDCA assistant commissioner, has recorded statements of “some of the persons concerned” and a preliminary report was submitted to Koshia on June 12. A final report is awaited.

The preliminary report attached as an annexure with Koshia’s affidavit includes Sanghavi’s statement, along with details of the financial transactions and details of the drug consignments.

Paatil, who is also Navsari MP, and Sanghavi had courted controversy when amid shortage of the anti-viral drug during the second wave of Covid-19, the BJP state chief announced that the party would give 5,000 Remdesivir injections free of cost to needy patients from Surat BJP office.

As per Sanghavi’s affidavit, 1,500 Remdesivir injections of brand name Remdac (which is manufactured by Zydus) were procured by a Surat-based distributor via an Ahmedabad-based distributor, and the stock was supplied to two medical stores on one day and distributed to beneficiaries on April 10 and 11 through the party office. The cost of injections totalling to over Rs 9 lakh, were borne by Anupam Rasayan and Shott Amusement.

“Looking to the further requirement”, on April 11 and 12, BJP offices facilitated distribution through Kiran Hospital. In all, 2,506 Remdesivir injections were made available in the four days to around 1635 “genuine” persons, the affidavit states.

Sanghavi states that “because of the unprecedented and large number of deaths due to the coronavirus,” as well as looking at the high demand of Remdesivir injections at the time, Sanghavi along with “other party social worker met the United Distributor, who is Surat based distributor and apprised it about the difficulty faced by the peoples of Surat and Navsari due unprecedented COVID19 and asked to facilitate the availability of more quantity of Remdesivir Injection to which United Distributor refused and informed the deponent (Sanghavi) that it can only supply to either hospital or to medical store.”

“Thus, after due deliberation one New Piplod Medical Store, Surat as well as Shankar Medical Store, Navsari came forward to help the deponent and other workers and accordingly United Distributor was requested to place order for approximately about 1,500 injections to Rimi Distributors (based in Sanand, Ahmedabad),” Sanghavi stated.

Rimi Distributors supplied 1,000 vials to United Distributors at Surat April 10. From United Distributors, 900 vials were sent to the New Piplod Medical store at Surat and 100 vials were sent to Shankar Medical store at Navsari. Rimi Distributors dispatched 500 more vials of Remdesivir on April 10 to United Distributor, which dispatched 400 vials to New Piplod Medical Store Surat and 100 vials to Shankar Medical Store.

Sanghavi in his affidavit also states, “…it is pertinent to mention that on 09/04/2021 a donor by the name of Anupam Rasayan, Surat, made payment to Rimi Distributor by bank transfer and on 10/04/2021 one Shott Amusement LLP, Surat, made payment to Rimi Distributor by bank transfer.”

While invoices for these payments have been annexed, for the ones from Kiran Hospital, the affidavit says, “I state that cost of 1006 injections was paid by certain volunteers / social workers to Kiran Hospital in cash the requisite bills and receipts were also obtained towards same. The bills towards above said cost are approximately 500-600 in numbers and therefore the same are not produced at this stage, but I undertake to produce the same as and when called upon by this Honourable Court.”

Sanghavi says that for the distribution to those in need from the BJP office, a pharmacist and a doctor would check the “genuineness and veracity of necessary documents”.

“…Social workers on the basis of tokens given to each person, would make the vials available, but under the direct supervision of the doctor and the pharmacist who are present at the office of BJP,” the affidavit stated.

Countering Dhanani’s allegations, Sanghavi submitted that “this is not a case of hoarding or black-marketing or distribution or dispensation as contemplated…, but this is a clear case of facilitating the availability of injections to genuine and needy people”.

On April 10, the 900 vials were made available from the office of BJP, Surat. After verification by the doctor and pharmacist at the BJP office, social workers would take the documents to New Piplod Medical Store, which would hand over the injections to the social workers who would facilitate them for the beneficiaries. “Similar procedure was adopted and followed at Navsari for about 100 vials,” as per the affidavit.

He also adds that around 20-21 persons who came to the BJP office for the injection from April 10-12 were found to be “bogus” and were not given the injections.

Out of 1,500 injections, 1,300 injections “were made available by following due process of law in Surat and 200 injections were made available by following due process of law in Navsari on 10th and 11th of April”, it stated.

Paatil, who had made the announcement of free distribution of the drug from Surat BJP office, had told the Indian Express then that the party has “made arrangements to buy 5,000 Remdesivir injections from Zydus, and have placed orders… some of our friends from Surat city have bought these injections and we are distributing them through the BJP”.

 

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