Jharkhand is fast emerging out to be the front-running state, as far as Medicines Scams in the State Health Departments are concerned. Consequently, the poor denizens of state are left at the mercy of pathetic health facilities in Jharkhand; that fails miserably in providing even the quality medicines for the treatment of various ailments.
In the first case, the Medicine Scam started right after the inception of Jharkhand in 2000. It seems that the scam laid wrong foundation for the systems and procedures being followed even today, not only in Jharkhand Health Department but also the other Departments.
On 23rd September, Naresh Kumar Rastogi, the alleged master-mind behind the Medicine Purchase Scam was arrested by Jharkhand Vigilance Department. He was caught only after decade long hunt that started way back in 2001, when the said scam was perpetuated. Naresh Kumar Rastogi was hiding at Ma Bhabani Bhavan at Argora in Ranchi, when he was arrested.
Sharing the details about the accused with the journalists, M.V. Rao, I.G. (Vigilance) said, “In the period between 2001 and 2004, our department had filed 10 FIRs against Naresh, who was found to be the king-pin in the medicine purchase scam. The modus-operandi was simple, Naresh used to supply medicines at the exorbitant rates, much higher than its market or prescribed rates in collusion with the Chief Medical Officers (C.M.O) and Civil Surgeons (C.S.) posted at the districts. The medicines supplied by Naresh had very short self-life, with the result most of these drugs remained in circulation, even after their expiry dates.”
Elaborating on the Medicine Scam, it was further disclosed by I.G. (Vigilance), “The C.M.O and C.S. posted at West Singhbhum, Garhwa, Pakur, Dhanbad, Chatra, and Deoghar, during the three years period from 2001 to 2004, were actively involved with Naresh in the medicine scam. These C.M.O. and C.S. had placed orders of medicines with Naresh (through his companies) instead of ordering medicines from authorized distributors of the prestigious Medicine Companies.”
The FIRs so far have named at least 8 C.S. or C.M.O., 72 state officials and subordinate staff posted in the above named districts, Medical Representatives (M.Rs.) of the Medicine Companies and Superintendent of Medical Colleges. These accused have been charged with misuse of office, cheating and conspiracy to loot the state exchequer under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In the second case, the Medicine Scam took place during the reign of former Health Minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi.
On 23rd September, Special CBI Court issued a non-bail-able warrant against the Madan Mohan Prasad, following which current Health Minister Hemlal Murmu suspended him and initiated process to fill the position of State Drug Controller. It is alleged by the investigation agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that along with Bhanu Pratap Shahi, State Drug Controller Madan Mohan Prasad is involved in the Rupees 130 crore medicine purchase scam.
About a month ago, on 10th August, CBI had charge-sheeted Madan Mohan Prasad and then CBI Court had issued summons to him to reply to the charges. But Madan did not appear in court, as he feared his arrest. Briefing the journalists, the CBI Investigating Officer, B.K. Singh said, “Madan is currently absconding and we are on a lookout for him. If anyone knows his whereabouts, the authorities should immediately be notified.” He further stated that Madan is being charged with his alleged involvement in the scam for illegal purchases and illegal grants of licenses to drug formulas.
Rakesh Prasad, Special Prosecutor (CBI) stated, “Next date of hearing is on 13th October.” Further elaborating on the case, R.P. Choudhary, Senior Superintendent of Police (CBI) said, “Madan has been charged under sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act.” The other accused in the Medicine Scam includes former Health Secretary Pradeep Kumar, former Reproductive and Child Health Care Officer Vijay Shankar Narayan and Siyaram Prasad.
In our view, it is reprehensible that medicines with expired dates were literally being pushed down the throat of many Jharkhandi common people who visit these Jharkhand Government’s Health-facilities, viz., Hospitals, District Health Centres, Primary Health Centres, etc, that are being run in our state of Jharkhand.
Even words fail to convey our disgust and anger on such acts of corruption happening in state of Jharkhand.
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