Already engulfed in irregularities that surfaced regarding the issuance of food registration certificates and licences to businesses and vendors, the problems of Jalandhar civil surgeon’s office are only compounding as the Vigilance Bureau (VB) has begun a high level inquiry into utilisation of funds for buying various appliances and equipment for health services.
The inquiry has left senior officials, including few retired from the health department ‘stunned’. A team of two vigilance inspectors, Sukhwinder Singh and Subash Kumar, has been formed under the supervision of senior superintendent of police (SSP vigilance) Satinder Singh, and will probe the spending of the funds from 2012-2014.
The team has seized records regarding utilisation of funds from the civil surgeon’s office and has also recorded statements of some officials and employees working in the office.
Sources in the civil surgeon’s office said the inquiry would probe the purchase of electronic appliances, including computers, LCDs, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, printers, computer processing unit (CPU) refrigerators, and furniture etc.
Interestingly, they added that officials and employees, whose involvement was suspected, had started approaching their political bosses to save them.
When contacted, the SSP said, “The Vigilance Bureau has begun an inquiry in this case. It is only the initial stage of the probe and officials have been deputed for the task.”
However, Singh refused to divulge further details but confirmed that records pertaining to 2012-14 had been procured from the civil surgeon’s office.
He said the inquiry would take some time to complete and the bureau would take action accordingly.
In December last year, HT had exposed the irregularities in district health department regarding registration of food businesses. Unaware of the online system, many businesses had paid ` 5,000 to 6,000, despite the fact that the annual registration fee was just ` 100 for issuance of a licence.
Balbir Singh, owner of a grocery shop and flour mill at Aman Nagar, was issued a licence for which he paid ` 6,000. However, there was no record of Singh’s certificate (000071) on the website of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
Shockingly, the certificate carried the renewal date of April 1, 2018, while its validity was only one year.
A probe had found many irregularities regarding food registration certificates and licences issued by the civil surgeon’s office to certain food business operators in gross violation of the mandatory online facility started by the central government in March 2014.