Mumbai Municipal Corp Cancels EoI for Body Bags; BMC Was Buying it at Rs6,719 Against a Price of Rs202

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to cancel an expression of interest (EoI) that had quoted rates for body bags at more than 33 times than the market price. As per the EoI (DMC/CPD/ 38 dt. 14.04.2020) issued in April, the fixed rate for body bags was quoted at Rs6,719 per bag. However, as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) relief, Moneylife Foundation and several others, including the BMC-run hospitals, have been buying these body bags at Rs180 to Rs202.
 
Moneylife contacted Iqbal Singh Chahal, municipal commissioner of BMC and pointed out the huge price difference in its EoI and market price of the body bags. Mr Chahal acted swiftly and immediately decided to cancel the EoI for body bags.

The April EoI had mentioned fixed prices for several items, including body bags at Rs6,719 per bag and N95 masks at Rs42 per mask. The EoI mentions that the supplier can quote rates lower than these fixed rates. In the EoI and willingness to supply the material, the BMC stated, "If any supplier quotes lower rate for any item and give supply then the existing suppliers should match the lower rate and supply with that rate."
 
However, as per our information, none of the suppliers quoted lower rates for body bags and one supplier was providing it at Rs6,719 per bag.
 
 
The revised EoI does not have body bag as material to be procured from suppliers. (see image below)
 
 
Social activist Anjali Damania, in a tweet, had said that the supplier for the body bags for EoI floated in April 2020, is a company called Vedant Innotech Pvt Ltd, with a main business of casting.
As per guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), all Covid-19 bodies are to be transported in body bags to prevent the spread of the virus. After the corona virus outbreak, hospital are using body bags for transporting body of every dead person, which has created a demand for these bags. 
 
While the BMC have been supplying body bags to hospitals, it is not adequate. After receiving request from doctors from many hospitals in Mumbai, Moneylife Foundation procured body bags from registered suppliers and so far, have provided about 2,000 body bags. (Do check https://www.mlfoundation.in/newsletters.html)
 
 
 
Moneylife readers may be aware about our articles on increased prices of N95 masks and the subsequent order passed by the Bombay High Court directing the government to cap prices within two weeks. The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Sucheta Dalal and Anjali Damania. 
 
Moneylife Foundation was able to buy N95 masks from Venus Safety & Health Pvt Ltd at almost the same rate as fixed by the BMC. However, when the Foundation wanted to buy more masks for distributing among hospitals in Mumbai, it was told about shortage. Soon after, Moneylife Foundation started received calls and messages from suppliers of N95 masks, who were quoting a price of more than Rs250 per mask. (Read: N95 Masks: Bombay HC Asks Union Govt and NPPA To Cap Prices in 2 Weeks)
 
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    COMMENTS

    shirish.s

    3 months ago

    Excellent work, Sucheta madam.
    You have saved MCGM.
    We should appreciate action by Municipal Commissioner, so quick.

    tillan2k

    3 months ago

    remember coffin box during Kargil skirmish x times and thing blew up how they were given decent burial.. imagine the richness of supply chain constituents ask the bidder he will be tell u wher the difference will go and he will only have REASOnABLE PROFIT

    Dilip Modi

    3 months ago

    Well done Money life team for your vigilance and follow up. Like the post audit situation in IL&FS, who is accountable in BMC for such lapses?

    cvkakatkar

    3 months ago

    GOOD OF YOU - MONEY LIFE.
    WHO IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THIS CASE ?

    Aar Aar

    3 months ago

    Respect to the ML foundation for stopping this loot.
    3000% robbery at the time of human crisis? BMC administrators you people have no heart.

    m.prabhu.shankar

    3 months ago

    Taking commissions and corruption is criminal offence and bad. But its prevalent everywhere. But in this case what is the corruption level - (6719 - 202) / 202 * 100 = 3226 %. People like me find it difficult to believe. Can a corruption / commissioning happen at this percentage. Shocking. Indicates how important Orgs like MoneyLife and NGOs run by good people like Anjali Damani. Thanks a lot to both of them.

    hamungel

    3 months ago

    Moneylife and Mrs. Damania are doing excellent work to eradicate the cancer of corruption in these difficult times. I wish them all the best.

    vram2311

    3 months ago

    kudos to the ML team

    shirish.s

    3 months ago

    When the nation is suffering, these people don't hesitate to cook their food on the flame of a dead burning body.
    My congratulation to Sucheta Dalal and Anjali Damania, for their yeoman's service in this high-risk global health environment.

    Petrol, diesel prices rise nearly Rs3/ltr in 5 days
    Petrol and diesel prices have become more expensive for the common man with oil marketing companies raising pump prices by 60 paise per litre on Thursday.
     
    The auto fuel prices have now risen five days in a row with petrol prices increasing by Rs2.74 and diesel by Rs2.83 per litre since Sunday. In three of the last five days, the prices have risen by a sharp 60 paise per litre while it increased by around 40 and 55 paise per litre on Tuesday and Wednesday.
     
    Sources in oil marketing companies said that price rise could continue for another week or 10 days as global crude prices are firming up with a pick up in demand following opening up of economies across the globe post Covid-19 related lockdown. Even global crude prices are on the rise and its prices have more than doubled from April levels at over $40 a barrel level.
     
    The increase in retail prices on Thursday has been made under the dynamic pricing system for daily revision of fuel prices which OMCs resumed after over 83 days break during the lockdown period.
     
    In the national capital, the retail price of both petrol and diesel had increased by 60 paise per litre to Rs74 and Rs72.22 per litre respectively on Thursday.
     
    In other cities, the increase could vary depending on the tax structure on products.
     
    IANS had published earlier that daily price revision may begin in June and retail prices of petrol and diesel could go up to Rs5 a litre in phases.
     
    Prices of transportation fuel were last revised under the dynamic pricing policy on March 16 and there were few instances of price hike only when the respective state governments hiked VAT or cess. In a bid to increase revenues during the nationwide lockdown, several state governments raised taxes imposed on transportation fuel.
     
    Already, the gap between cost and sale price of petrol and diesel for OMCs has reached around Rs5-6 per litre. If this has to be covered over a period of time, given there is no further increase in global prices, auto fuel prices may be increased by 40-60 paise per day for a couple of weeks to cover the losses.
     
    The increase in retail price under daily price revision would largely depend on prevailing oil prices and global oil market at the time. 
     
    However, lockdown has also curved demand for auto fuel. This could maintain some check on prices.
     
    Raising retail prices became important for OMCs now as the recent steep excise duty hike without resultant increase in petrol and diesel prices, had substantially brought down its marketing margins from record high level of Rs12-18 per litre.
     
    If it is unable to raise prices when the global crude prices are rising, it would start incurring losses that will get steeper.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Addressing the ‘Elephant’ in the Room
    The death of an elephant in Kerala has galvanised the nation and there have been clarion calls for ‘justice’. As the sentiment wears off, phrases like ‘fed’ and ‘hungry’ have disappeared from the reports. A clearer picture has subsequently emerged of the events that allegedly unfolded. It can now be said with some degree of certainty that the firecracker bomb was placed by a farmer to ward off wild boar from his crops. This blows the lid off the issue of human wildlife interface that is often presented fallaciously to urban Indians. 
     
    Looking at the dastardly act as an isolated incident that can be rectified is myopic. This Indiaspend article quoting from the Elephant Task Force 2010 report, estimates the destruction of 0.8–1 million hectares of crops and 10,000-15,000 properties every year. 
     
    The preferred mode to retaliate is electrocution, just as food bombs are for wild boars. Some 461 elephants were electrocuted between 2009 and 2017. So this phenomenon takes place literally every week. 
     
    At the receiving end are obviously not just elephants. This nilgai being buried alive in Vaishali district in Bihar last year was another heart wrenching episode. The common factor between the two episodes is the fact that ‘justice’ will only be limited to the last mile actors, those who have been left to execute this act of desperation.
     
    These two incidents are not even the tip of the iceberg as the elephant data shows. Though aggregated data for each animal across the country is not available, the extent of the problem can be gauged by the fact that culling is institutionalised and it is legal to shoot wild boar, nilgai and some other species in multiple states in this country. The government itself executes this in some cases as well as has given similar permission to farmers. This clearly points out to the inability of the government to mitigate circumstances leading to these episodes. 
     
    The sphere of its action is limited to acting on the symptoms. So it is ironic for the environment minister to point out that killing is not our culture whereas the government is executing the same by declaring multiple animals as vermin. It is easy then to blame the government along with the farmer. This is exactly what followed the Kerala episode. The instant reaction blamed the farmer followed by the government, both justified. The third part of pondering over systemic issues and introspection is what is amiss.
     
    As everyone feels validated putting up a social media post for the elephant, the urban Indian needs to realise that protection of habitats and species can only happen if they are willing to bear the cost. The Union government allocated Rs3,100 crore to the ministry of environment, forests and climate change in this year’s Budget; this is sadly the same amount that it allocated to a certain statue on the Narmada river bed, a third of what is allocated to the coastal road being built in the financial capital and a 33rd of the flagship bullet train project. Evidently habitat protection is not the government's fiscal priority. 
     
     
    The problem is, there is a lack of revenue generation from the sector as we are riddled with perverse subsidies. Almost all cities exclusively depend on the forests for their water supply. Mumbai pays 6 rupees for a thousand litres of water; this is not enough to even get the water to Mumbai from the reservoirs. We love responding to episodes once in a while but don’t pay for any of the environment-related services. 
     
    How many of us care when massive habitats are diverted for hare-brained ideas like river linking or unviable hydropower projects? How many link the elephant deaths to habitat fragmenting railways and highways? For the record, 49 elephants have died on railways between 2016 and 2018. 
     
     
    The fact is that things have to be manufactured somewhere, power has to be generated somewhere, the roads have to be built somewhere. This 'somewhere' is usually not homes, yours and mine, but those of the animals. This increases the pressure on habitats and consequently, human-animal conflict on its fringes is just an outcome.
     
    This is not another rant to drive guilt in the minds of urban Indians, it is an effort to drive home the complicated economics of saving habitats of species. Since this cost is completely hidden from us the question that beckons to be asked is: Who shoulders this burden? This burden is shouldered by the communities that live around these ecosystems. They not only face livelihood loss due to crop depredation but also cattle loss in case of predators. For a lot of farmers an entire season’s effort is lost overnight. That is where the desperation to protect their livelihood sets in. Have we thought about this as a food security issue? 
     
     
    Criminal punishment will be initiated and a family might be pushed to poverty, sadly it is not the first one, nor will it be the last. Without addressing the inherent issues of inequity and environmental injustice secured habitats is but a pipe dream.
     
    At our stage of development we cannot compromise on infrastructure needs as the poorest are at the receiving end of that stick as well. The government has to navigate through this complicated set of choices. There are solutions that are available but those mean additional expenditure for the government. 
     
    This is exactly where the urban Indian has to play a role. Elimination of perverse subsidies, paying a fair price for the environmental benefits we consume, are matters inherently linked to the larger issues of protection of habitats and species. Questions like “Are we willing to pay our share?” are the starting point. 
     
    Political mobilisation is necessary. 
     
    "How many of us vote on environmental lines?" "How many of us pressurise our elected representatives for pro environmental choices?" More fundamentally we need to ask ourselves "What is our skin in the game?" 
     
    The urban Indian, whose only approach towards the government is that of avoidance has to become political aware and financially involved. Until governments cannot win elections and raise money by protecting the environment we would have not addressed the ‘elephant’ in the room.
     
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    COMMENTS

    bsridhar06

    3 months ago

    Real issues of the tragedy very well brought out

    Meenal Mamdani

    3 months ago

    The anger, frustration and the sadness of the author at this state of affairs is evident.
    The choices made by the current govt on where to spend govt resources are awful but I hesitate to blame only the current govt. The past govts have been no better.

    The analogy to wildlife in Africa is very relevant. Indians do go abroad for safaris. I feel that they would be willing to spend to visit areas within the country too. Perhaps that is the way to make govts interested in saving wildlife. African countries protect their wildlife as wildlife tourism is often the largest revenue generator for them.

    Perhaps various Indian states that are always looking for a revenue stream could put their efforts towards conservation with the help of the local communities and experts. They would be rewarded with tourists flocking to their states, increasing the awareness of Indians towards this problem.

    sumitha

    3 months ago

    Thank you for this sane,balanced look at a complex issue. I am sure that urban Indians will not be willing to give up anything for our wildlife, shrieking on TV is easier.

    deepak.narain

    3 months ago

    The situation is woefully bad and no one is seriously concerned. Animal welfare should in our country be entrusted to PeTA.

    Dilip Modi

    3 months ago

    Very well articulated. We go all the way to Africa, spend lakhs, to see wild life but not think of providing a safe habitat for our own wild life and let the consequences be suffered by the fringe community living at its edges.

    m.prabhu.shankar

    3 months ago

    Excellent Article

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