The Punjab health department is in a fix for dumping the unwanted lab chemicals worth over Rs 1 crore at several health centres in the state, even at the civil hospital at Badal village, the native village of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. Health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani has initiated an inquiry to zero in on officials responsible for these illegal purchases.
Besides Badal village, where three containers of 500 gram each of pure silver nitrate costing Rs 1.8 lakh and other chemicals worth Rs 50,000 not required in any clinical test were dumped, a similar consignment worth Rs 2.5 lakh was stored at the primary health centre at Lambi, the chief minister’s constituency.
These entire murky purchases that cost the state exchequer more than Rs 1 crore have largely been stored in Muktsar and Moga districts, besides at a few other health centres in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Tarn Taran districts, revealed the documents procured under the RTI Act.
The documents revealed the replies of senior medical officers of these health centres, which said these chemicals were not required in any clinical tests at these centres.
The health minister’s call for a detailed inquiry into these purchases has been entrusted to special secretary, health, Vikas Garg, following the HT’s 2-part series ‘Lab chemicals scam’ on September 8-9, 2014.
Glassware probe too
Garg has also been asked to probe into the purchases of the glassware worth Rs 5 crore by the health department following HT’s another report on these murky deals that also raised a question mark on the state’s procurement policy and allegedly benefiting a single supplier of these items.
HT had reported ‘glassware scam’ on July 16, 2014, giving a detailed account of these purchases, including the slides alone for Rs 2.5 crore.
As per the norms, the demands for the purchase of chemicals, medicines or equipment come from the offices of the civil surgeons at district levels, following which a committee under the aegis of the director, health and family welfare, gives the final nod for executing the purchase orders.
These unwanted chemicals were purchased from 2010 to 2012.
Garg, when contacted, acknowledged the role of the directorate of health and family welfare in such purchases as per the rules. “I will submit my report after thoroughly looking into every aspect, including the financial implications,” he added.
Another murky deal
The health department had also purchased single channel pipettes of the ‘dry seal technology’ for another Rs 1 crore, which were of no use in the absence of micro tips, the additional part of the entire pipette equipment.
The additional documents procured under the RTI Act by a whistleblower further revealed that these pipettes were of no use without the said micro tips that make a complete pipette set to be used for clinical tests.