Unnecessary chemicals bought from favoured firm

  • Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 08, 2014 08:47 IST

No clinical test at the civil hospitals requires the rare chemicals that the Punjab health department and the state controller of stores in the industries department have bought from the supplier embroiled in the glassware scam, who has dumped reagents worth more than Rs 1 crore at these medical centres.

Silver nitrate alone was supplied for Rs 35 lakh, while the consignments of potassium iodide, iso-octane, acetonitrile, N-hexane, carbon tetrachloride, silver sulphate and O-phosphoric acid mainly were sold for Rs 65 lakh to the civil hospitals of Moga and Muktsar districts in the financial year 2010-11. The shipments were dumped in either the primary health centers or civil hospitals across Moga, Faridkot, Muktsar, Kapurthala, and Tarn Taran districts.

In the past two years, an unwanted quantity of chemicals, silver nitrate largely, was also dumped at the chemical examiner laboratory of the health department at Kharar.

Silver nitrate (14.5 kilogram, in 29 boxes of 500-gm each) and silver sulphate (1.625 kg, 65 boxes) worth Rs 38 lakh were supplied to the the primary health centers of Moga and Muktsar districts mainly; and 60-litre Iso-octane (AR), 218-litre N-hexane, and 400-litre acetonitrile (AR), all rare chemicals used in pharmaceutical research, received at four primary health centers each at Pattoherakheri, Kot Isse Khan, Dhudike, and Droali villages in Moga district.

A senior medical laboratory technician at the Moga Civil Hospital confirmed in his reply sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act that these chemicals were not required in any clinical test.

Similar replies were received from Faridkot and Kapurthala. The Moga official put onus on the central store office under the civil surgeon for the consignments that landed in April 2011.

“We were called to the main store and issued these chemicals,” he stated.

The roots of the scam lie in the directorate of health and family welfare, where the orders worth more than Rs 1 crore were finalised between January and March, 2011. The supplies were made to various health centres and the chemical examiner laboratory at Kharar between April and July, 2011.

Chemicals such as acetic acid, acetone, chloroform, di-ethyl-ether and methanol, which are used in high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), were requisitioned by the Moga and Faridkot civil surgeons, even when no HPLC machine is deployed in any hospital in the state. The chromatography tests are done only at the forensic or chemical examination laboratories.

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