Saryu Roy, Jamshedpur (East) MLA, has written to Jharkhand assembly speaker Rabindranath Mahato, requesting him to initiate legal action over an alleged drug procurement scam in the state health department, people close to the development said on Saturday.
“I have requested the speaker of the state assembly to initiate legal action regarding the drug procurement scam – purchasing drugs at prices higher than the lowest price quoted in tenders from designated suppliers, violating the laid down norms and rules of the government “Roy told HT on Saturday. .
“The state Health Minister gave a misleading answer to my question on this matter in the assembly on March 17 this year. This amounts to contempt of the House and calls for contempt action against the health minister (Banna Gupta) and the health department. The minister had told the House that purchasing medicines from Central Government agencies was mandatory, but that was not true, as per the directive of the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers,” Roy wrote in his letter to Mahato.
Roy further said that the health minister promised in the House to look into the matter and form a three-member committee comprising mission director (National Health Mission) Bhuvnesh Pratap Singh, health department additional secretaries Alok Trivedi and Jai Kishor Prasad (all (them IAS officers).
“The Health Minister told the House that the committee would submit its report within 30 days from March 16, 2023, when the committee was formed. However, the committee has not submitted any investigation report so far. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry disbanded this committee and formed another committee comprising only junior officials on August 7 this year. But after six months no report came. This shows how serious the minister and the health department are about the meeting and the statements given therein,” states Roy’s letter, a copy of which HT has.
Roy alleged that Banna Gupta misled even the state cabinet regarding health department resolution 102(6), dated 02.09.2021, on the basis of which the drugs were purchased by Jharkhand Medical and Health Infrastructure Development and Procurement Corporation Ltd. (JMHIDPCL), managing director (MD) of which he is the special secretary of the health department.
“This matter is directly related to the corruption of the Health Minister in purchasing medicines at much higher prices from suppliers notified by the Central Government. It misled the Cabinet and concealed the fact that the drugs were purchased from designated suppliers under paragraph 245 of the financial regulations by diluting paragraph 235. The Cabinet was not informed that the drugs were purchased at prices 3-4 times higher than the lowest price quoted in the tenders and that too from the nominated suppliers,” Roy alleged in his letter.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Banna Gupta refused to comment on the allegations, calling them “baseless”.