Mumbai, Jan 17 (IANS): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation chief I.S. Chahal for over three hours on Monday in connection with an alleged money-laundering case against Sujit Patkar, an aide of Shiv Sena-UBT MP Sanjay Raut, arising out of irregularities in a Covid Jumbo Field Hospitals scam.
After recording his statement, Chahal said that at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the BMC had set up 10 Jumbo Field Hospitals in the city with over 15,000 beds, 1,000 ICU and oxygen beds.
Later, the BMC informed the state government that it did not have the requisite manpower to manage such huge facilities and hence, decided to outsource the work to outside agencies.
A total of four parties had given their bids for these hospitals in which nearly one lakh patients were treated.
In August 2022, Bharatiya Janata Party ex-MP Kirit Somaiya had filed a complaint with the Mumbai Police alleging that fake documents were submitted to win the bid for the Jumbo Covid centres.
Later, based on the Mumbai Police complaint, the ED registered a money-laundering case against several persons including Patkar, Hementa Gupta, Sanjay Shah, and Raju Salunkhe for the civic body' contracts awarded to the Lifeline Hospital Management Services (LHMS).
It was alleged that the LHMS secured the contracts for manning the Covid Jumbo Field Hospitals at higher rates, though the company was not registered and had no experience in the health care sector.
Patkar and his partners allegedly secured four such contracts worth Rs 100 crore for managing the Jumbo hospitals, allegedly in connivance with civic officials. Subsequently, they submitted the bills and were paid an amount of Rs 38 crores.
In February 2022, while probing a money-laundering case against Raut, the ED had raided Patkar's premises and found several documents pertaining to the Jumbo hospital contracts, details of the payments etc., though the investigations started only after Somaiya's complaint.
On his part, Chahal said that there were no irregularities, he had given all the replies and would cooperate with the ED again whenever required.