HomeBUSINESSHLL unearthed a firm from Singapore for dispatching substandard Chinese KN95 masks...

HLL unearthed a firm from Singapore for dispatching substandard Chinese KN95 masks to India: Health Ministry


NEW DELHI : The union health ministry’s central procurement agency— HLL Lifecare Limited formerly Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL) unearthed a company from Singapore who tried to dispatch millions of substandard Chinese KN95 masks in 2021 to India by forging third party inspections certificate, two senior officials of the health ministry said on Tuesday. 

A central procurement agency i.e. HLL Lifecare Limited was finalized in February, 2020 to accelerate emergency procurement of essential medical commodities during the covid-19 pandemic. “HLL supported the central procurement division in the preparation of bidding documents as well as in bidding, evaluation and award of the contract. It also helped in managing the supply chain to deliver commodities according to the needs of the states,” said the first official. 

Meanwhile, a World Bank report also lauded that HLL hired inspection agencies to undertake pre-dispatch inspections at manufacturing sites. Random samples were collected from different batches for quality assessment independently by competent laboratories such as DRDO, Defense Research Development Establishment (DRDE), Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE), Labs of Ordinance Factory Board, South India Textile Research Association (SITRA). 

India did not compromise on quality of essential commodities in the largest procurement exercise conducted by the Indian government during covid-19 pandemic, cited World Bank report documenting the challenges, innovations and lessons in the procurement of the essential medical items. 

“Initially, the rejections, mostly due to poor penetration at seams of PPE, were as high as 20–30 percent, but the product quality improved significantly later. SITRA also developed a Blood Penetration Resistance Tester for PPE and licensed a company to produce and make this equipment available to the industry to help internal quality control,” stated the report. 

“We did centralized procurement through HLL to accelerate emergency procurement. The health ministry constituted an expert panel to develop specifications for overalls, goggles and N95 masks. Besides, HLL hired an inspection agency to undertake pre-dispatch inspections at the manufacturing sites. In one such case, a company from Singapore tried to dispatch millions of substandard Chinese KN95 masks in 2021 to India by forging third party inspections certificate. This was discovered by the dispatch inspection team of HLL and the bank guarantee of the supplier worth $9.75 million enchased. Money is lying in a separate account in embassy of Singapore and the issue is sub-judice,” said second official said. 

During the pandemic India was funded by the World Bank (WB)and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) jointly for COVID-19 emergency response and health systems strengthening project worth $ 1.5 Billion. 

“By May 2021, adequate number of manufacturers for PPE and N95 masks started producing quality products, and the health ministry worked with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to establish standards,” said the official. 

In its report World Bank has stated that India reduced the price of n95 masks from 250 to 50, PPE kits from 700 to 150, RT-PCR testing kits from 1200 to 70 and basic ICU ventilators developed at less than 2 lacs earlier which were imported at a cost of 10 lakhs each. 

“The report recognised and appreciated the handling of covid-19 pandemic done by us. We faced many challenges such as of limited domestic production of medical supplies, inadequate market intelligence, wide variation in intensity of pandemic across states, price and supply constraints due to increased demand across the globe, India managed the pandemic well,” said the second official. 

The World Bank report points to the 200 million substandard, soiled and second hand medical nitrile gloves purchased by USA from Thailand based Company during the pandemic. 

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