In a shocking turn of events, two warehouses belonging to the Kerala Medical Services Corporation (KMSCL) were engulfed in flames, resulting in substantial financial losses. The incident occurred during the final stages of investigations into corruption allegations involving crores of rupees during the Covid-19 era. Authorities suspect that crucial medical equipment and evidence related to the corruption case may have been destroyed in the fire, raising concerns of possible sabotage.
Amidst the devastation caused by the fire and the unfortunate death of a firefighter, the government has failed to address the mysterious circumstances surrounding the incident. The health department’s response has been lackluster, with officials merely announcing plans to conduct a safety audit of the warehouses. The Kollam warehouse incurred a loss of Rs. 10 crore, while the Thiruvananthapuram warehouse suffered a loss of Rs. 1.22 crore. Surprisingly, the government has shown no inclination to initiate a high-level investigation and has confined the inquiry to the local police.
The sequence of events surrounding the fire presents a puzzling situation:
- Additional medicines worth Rs. 2.5 crore, including rabies vaccines, were purchased last year after the completion of necessary procurement by KMSCL. The trade was suggested by a political appointee in the health department. Criticism ensued, leading to the entire stock being shifted to a godown in Uliakovil, Kollam, which was subsequently destroyed in the fire.
- The gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, procured at exorbitant prices during the Covid-19 period, were also stored in the same godown and subsequently burnt. These items held crucial evidentiary value in the ongoing Lokayukta case, implicating former minister KK Shailaja and others.
- Initially, KMSCL claimed that the fire in Kollam was caused by lightning. However, this theory was debunked by the fire brigade, leading authorities to suggest that bleaching powder was the cause. The suspicion arises that the fire may have spread from low-quality cotton left from the pre-Covid era to the bleaching powder. However, no definitive tests have been conducted to ascertain the exact cause.
- In Thiruvananthapuram, KMSCL officials initially stated that the fire originated in a building housing chemicals required for hospitals at the Menamkulam godown. There are reports of an explosion that reverberated throughout the area. Suspicions have arisen that the combination of bleaching powder fumes and irregularities in the alteration of terms and conditions during the Covid-19 period may have triggered the explosion. Nevertheless, no investigations have been conducted to delve into these claims.
- The existence of expired pills and medicines stored in the Thiruvananthapuram godown since 2014, allegedly on the instructions of the General Manager of KMSCL, adds another layer of suspicion and raises questions about how such useless medications ended up in a facility primarily designated for chemical storage.
As the fire-related mystery deepens, concerns are mounting over the potential destruction of critical evidence related to corruption allegations. Calls for a thorough and impartial investigation into the incident have intensified, urging authorities to unravel the truth behind these perplexing events and bring those responsible to justice. It is noteworthy to mention that these kinds of incidents have become common in Kerala after the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government came into power.
Courtesy; Manoj Kadambad, Manorama News