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Himachal’s Viral Letter Case:  Health Department Issues Clarification Refuting Allegations of Corruption

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Viral Letter alleging Corruption in HP Health-Department

Shimla-The viral letter alleging corruption in Himachal Pradesh Health Department, which created ripples in the political sphere and caused embarrassment to Bhartiya Janata Party, has compelled the state government to come out with an official clarification. Regional media and Hindi dailies are calling this letter “the Patra Bomb” as it appeared right before the by-polls to the legislative assembly on Dharamshala and Pachhad seats.

Today, a spokesperson of the HP government said that the news reports appearing in a section of media and social media regarding irregularities in purchase of medicines are totally baseless.  Health Department has termed these allegations as unnecessary rumours being spread to mislead the people.

The spokesperson said it is wrong to say that any person has been given supply orders amounting to Rs. 35 crores as the government has enlisted 42 firms for this purpose, and it is not possible to give supply orders to any individual.

About two weeks ago, an anonymous letter addressed to Shanta Kumar, former Chief Minister, went viral on social media. The letter named the Health Minister Vipin Parmar, CM Jairam Thakur, and Industries Minister Bikram Thakur, alleging them of facilitating the supply of low-quality medicines worth Rs 35 crores. The letter had alleged that these ministers and others in power compelled the Health Department to buy these medicines from a specific supplier at a higher cost.

The case became more interesting when a senior leader of BJP and former minister, Ravinder Ravi, was named as the main person behind creating and circulating this letter. The police had questioned Ravi multiple times and had confiscated his mobile phone. A case under section 505 of the IPC (spreading misinformation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) was also registered against him. Though police did not make any comment regarding the progress in the case, the appearance of the name of BJP’s own leader in the case brought infighting withing the party into the limelight. Ravinder is believed to be a close aid of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal. BJP has two factions currently – one supporting Dhumal and another supporting CM Jairam Thakur. The infighting intensified after this letter.

While BJP tried not to comment on the viral letter, Congress grabbed the opportunity and sought fair probe into the allegations labelled in the letter instead of taking action against those who wrote and circulated it. Congress had also alleged that BJP is trying to cover up the case by directing investigation towards those who labelled these allegations of corruption against the government.

Under immense pressure, today the government ultimately had to issue an official clarification rejecting the allegations.

In the clarification, the government further rejected the reports regarding the purchase of medicines by a Doctor in Mandi at a high rate of Rs. 16 (instead of Rs. 2). The government said no such instance has come to the notice of the department. Similarly, the claim of allotting a medicine shop at Palampur is also false and baseless since this shop was allotted to Civil Supplies Corporation in 1997 and the pharmacists are also appointed by the Corporation, the government clarified.

Regarding the purchases of equipment by the Ayurveda Department at higher rates is concerned, the then Director has been charge-sheeted for misconduct and causing loss to the State exchequer to the extent of Rs. 39 lakh. Simultaneously, three members of Purchase Committee were placed under suspension and are also being charge-sheeted for negligence and causing loss to the State, the government said.     

The spokesperson said that the e-tendering has been started in Himachal to ensure complete transparency in procurement of all types of medicines/drugs, surgical items and consumables in the health department. He said before the year 2018, the medicines and surgical items used to be procured as per the rate contract finalized by the Himachal Pradesh State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd.

However, now after introducing e-tendering in August 2018, medicines and medical equipment for all the government health institutions including medical colleges of the state are being purchased by the department itself, he said.

He said that e-tenders for the supply of medicines, drugs and consumables to the state health institutions were invited by the health department for the first time in August 2018 and the bids were invited from the manufactures/direct importers in which 118 firms participated and 73 qualified. All supply orders are being issued through Drugs Vaccine Distribution Management System (DVDMS) portal to the successful bidders by generating code of the successful bidder being operated at the level of CMOs/BMOs and Medical Superintendents.

The Spokesperson said that efforts have been made to bring maximum drugs on rate contract and the medicines not available on the state rate contract are being procured from the Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs), rate contract of medical colleges, ESI rate contract, Bureau of Pharma PSU of India (BPPI) rates (Jan Aushadhi) and also by calling local tenders. He said that all the CMOs and Medical Superintendents have also been permitted for making procurement subject to certain conditions.

He said that purchase order amounting to around 44 crores has been made by the indenting officers (CMOs, BMOs Medical Superintendents) including about Rs. 8.30 crores for district Mandi during the year 2019 on the rates approved by the government of Himachal Pradesh. He said that the branded drugs cannot be purchased by any indenting officer since all drugs available on rate contract are generic. However, if anyone was found purchasing branded drugs from outside or out of the rate contract on a specified ladder, stringent action will be taken against him as it leads to misconduct and loss to the state exchequer.

He said that the health department is ensuring complete transparency in the purchase of medicines and equipment but if any person has solid proof regarding any irregularity, he should come forward to bring it to the notice of the government and the department will conduct an appropriate enquiry in any case of irregularity.

 

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Himachal: Daily New COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1000 Mark, State Govt Directs Admins & Police to Show Strictness in Implementing SOPs

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Himachal Pradesh daily COVID-19 update april 12

Shimla– Reeling under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh continues to report a huge surge in daily new cases and fatalities. On Monday, the state recorded 1089 cases – the highest in 24 hours this year. Nine more people succumbed to the infection, taking the COVID-19 death tally to 1111. Highest three deaths were reported from Una district, followed by Mandi (3).  View more details on fatalities below:

covid-19 deaths

Kangra district reported the highest 249 cases, followed by Solan (166), and Lahaul-Spiti (114). Find more district-wise details below:

himachal pradesh covid-19 surge

Source: HP NHM

Today’s cases also include former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, who tested positive. Earlier, his son Vikramaditya had also tested positive for COVID-19. Pertinent to mention that Vikramaditya Singh had campaigned in the Municipal Corporation elections that were concluded on April 7. 

Further, 18 cases were reported from Pine Grove School, Solan. 

The state government, which had been mostly showing a casual approach towards the surge since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic, is now coming hard on it in its review meetings.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is now asking elected representatives of the local bodies to ensure that the people strictly follow the SoPs regarding temples and marriages.  The PRI members are being directed to motivate and advise the old people, those with co-morbidity to avoid going to public places as they are most prone to this virus.

“Such persons must be reverse quarantined meaning that their movement outside their houses should be minimized to the extent possible,” Chief Minister today said.

Yesterday the state government had made it mandatory for people arriving from seven high load states to carry RT-PCR negative report. The decision would apply from April 16 onwards, the government had decided.  However, he had added, that the state would remain open for tourists.

Chief Minister has asked the representatives of the PRI to keep an eye on the people visiting from other State, particularly from the high load states.

“As far as possible such people must be asked to remain in home quarantine for 10 to 14 days and getting themselves tested for COVID-19 and should not mix with the general public of the area,” he said.

The Transport Department was directed to ensure the sanitization of buses and other public transport.  Shopkeepers were told to strictly follow the ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy. Private bus operators were also asked to properly sanitize their buses and also ensure plying buses without overcrowding.

District administrations were asked to ensure that social functions such as marriages etc. strictly follow the maximum limit prescribed for such events.

Chief Minister said that action if required could be taken against the violators.

The District administration of Kullu district was directed to ensure that all the tourists visiting the district strictly follow SoPs issued from time to time. He told the administration that all the guidelines need to be followed and implemented strictly.

He said that the Ayurveda Department must also provide ‘kada’ to the patients under home isolation. The Police Department was directed to ensure that no casualness be adopted by the tourists, particularly in tourist spots such as Manikaran, Kasol, Manali etc.    

Deputy Commissioner Mandi Rugved Thakur, informed that 1,33,878 total sample done in the district, active cases were 443 and positivity ratio was 8.25 percent and fatality rate 1.2 percent. He said that 51 per cent cases in the district were from urban areas.

 

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HP Govt Makes RT-PCR Negative Report Mandatory for People Arriving from Seven States

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entry of tourists in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Tourist movement to Himachal Pradesh is likely to get hit during the peak season as the state government has made it mandatory for people of seven high load states viz. Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh need to carry 72-hour prior RT-PCR negative report while visiting the State. The restriction would apply after April 16th.

The decision came after Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who had been insisting that there would be no restriction on tourist movement to avert economic losses to the tourism industry, held a review meeting amid a massive surge in new cases and deaths.  

The state government has decided to allow tourists to visit the State, but at the same time, hotel owners and tourists should strictly adhere to the SoPs, Chief Minister said.

“The virus was spreading at a fast pace which was the biggest concern. During the last 45 days, the State has reported 10,690 new covid cases. 120 deaths were reported in the State during the last 45 days,” he said.

Over 900 new cases with 12 fatalities were reported on Saturday only.  On Sunday, according to the Health Department’s daily update, the state recorded 512 new cases. 

Pertinent to mention that Maharastra, Delhi and a few other states had been suggesting that a complete lockdown could be imposed if the high rate of resurgence continued in the coming days.

Though the Chief Minister had been maintaining that lockdown would be the last resort, the tone appears to be changing with the worsening of the COVID-19 situation.

Further, laying stress on twin strategy for testing, tracing and treatment with effective surveillance of micro containment zones, Chief Minister said that greater emphasis must also be laid on RT-PCR tests to achieve the target of 70 percent RT-PCR tests.

He said that the State Health Department must also take steps to increase bed capacity to meet out any eventuality.

Meanwhile, no restriction has been put on the devotees visiting various temples in the State during the Navratri festival.

The government said no overcrowding would be allowed in buses and other public transport and private vehicles. Wearing face masks even in vehicles must be enforced strictly.

Chief Minister, who faced widespread criticism over violation of SOPs during the political campaigning for elections to the Municipal Corporations, blamed laxity shown by the people for a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the State.  

 

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Himachal Pradesh: 662 New Cases & 7 Deaths in 24 Hours, Over 4500 Cases & 55 Deaths in 9 Nine Days

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report

Shimla– The number of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths in Himachal Pradesh was reported to be 662 and seven respectively on Friday till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest 165 new cases and four fatalities, while Sirmaur, Shimla, and Mandi recorded one fatality each.

View details of COVID-19 deaths below:

Daily covid 19 deaths

Source: HP NHM

Solan followed Kangra district with 132 new cases.

Find district-wise details of new cases below:

Daily COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Source: HP NHM

The COVID-19 case and death tallies have now reached 68173 and 1090 respectively. In April, the state has recorded a huge surge in cases. In the nine days of this month, the state has recorded 4568 new cases and 55 COVID-19 deaths – a rate of more than six deaths per day.

The state government today reviewed the situation in its Cabinet meeting and expressed concern. However, no restrictive measures were taken except extending the closure of all educational institutes till April 21.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort.

Further, the state government today said that to make vaccination people’s movement, 11th to 14th April may be celebrated as ‘Teeka Utsav’.

The government said that the biggest matter of concern was that the virus was spreading at a fast pace. In addition to this, the number of death has also increased rapidly. All the districts have been advised to enhance their capacity be it bed capacity, quarantine capacity and medical equipment capacity etc.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that strict action must also be taken against those involved in gross violation of SOPs. He said that the hoteliers must also strictly follow the SOPs so that the State Government may not be forced to take action. He said that laxity shown by the people has resulted in sharp resurgence of Covid cases in the State.

It’s pertinent to mention that during the campaigning for the elections to Municipal Corporations, all parties and their leaders including the Chief Minister violated all SOPs without attracting any action. The parties also faced criticism for ignoring public health for the sake of political interests, thus, setting wrong examples for the public.  

Feature Image: Pexels@polina-tankilevitch

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