Herb scam: vigilance bureau takes over probe

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Jun 01, 2014 21:38 IST

Following the failure of the Punjab health department to come to any logical conclusion regarding the probe into the herb scam that came to fore in 2011 at government ayurvedic pharmacy, the Punjab vigilance bureau has taken over the investigations and has intensified the probe into the matter.

In a fresh development, sleuths of the vigilance bureau have collected samples of the medicines recently procured by the pharmacy authorities in order to compare it with alleged substandard medicines purchased in 2011

The inquiry report into the matter has been hanging fire after officials of the health department allegedly delayed completing the probe for the reasons better known to them.

The report of a high-level inquiry marked by the then health minister, Satpal Gosain, into the herb scam in the ayurveda department in 2011 is yet to be submitted to the state government. A committee was to submit a report within 15 days of its formation in 2011.

On March 24, this year, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) had sought a detailed
report from the authorities but failed to get any positive response from the authorities.

Deputy superintendent of police (Vigilance) KD Sharma said they had intensified investigation into the case but could not give details about the probe.

"The investigation has been formally handed over to us. The details of investigation could not be disclosed now," he said.

The scam
Former medical superintendent (MS) of the government ayurvedic pharmacy and store, a whistleblower in the case, have alleged that the department of ayurveda adopted "wrongful practices" in the purchase of herbs for the preparation of medicines at its pharmacy.

Apart from purchasing drugs at higher rates, in 2011, the ayurveda department has also been accused of purchasing poor quality herbs for the preparations of ayurvedic drugs.

It has been alleged that the department had purchased spurious and low quality herbs and ready-made medicines worth lakhs under two different grants - `81.5 lakh and `98.7 lakh - by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

In his complaint, former Patiala MS, who was posted with the department when the scam came to the fore, stated that opposing the reports of the Pharmacopoeial Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM), Ghaziabad, the health department gave its nod to use the spurious herbs available at the ayurvedic pharmacy drug store, claiming that out of 124 samples of several drugs collected, only 23 drugs were found to be substandard.

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