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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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Kinnaur: Horrific Tragedy Unfolds as Bodies of 7 Out of 11 Missing Trekkers Recovered, Two Still Missing

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trekkers dead in kinnaur himachal pradesh

Kinnaur-A horrific tragedy is unfolding as bodies of seven trekkers, who had gone missing while trekking from Uttarkashi to Chitkul, were recovered by the teams of Army and ITPB from Lamkhaga Pass in Kinnaur district. Two of them have been rescued alive and were receiving medical treatment. Two trekkers are still missing and feared to be dead.

Most of these persons belonged to West Bengal. 

The rescue team could not lift the bodies due to the bad weather on Thursday as it had to suspend the search and rescue operation. The operation was resumed on Friday. The search operation for the remaining missing persons would be carried out on Saturday. The search and rescue teams found the bodies at an altitude of 5,000 metres.

According to the available information, a total of 17 persons – 11 trekkers and six porters- had left Uttarkashi on October 11 on a trekking expedition that was supposed to conclude in Chikul of Kinnaur district on October 19. However, the weather took a drastic turn and the region witnessed heavy snowfall on October 17 and 18.

While six Nepalese porters were said to have reached Chitkul, the trekkers had decided to stay in temporary tents at Lamkhaga Pass. The porters had informed the police about the stranded trekkers on reaching Chitkul on October 20.

The Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur, Abid Hussain, confirmed that nine of these trekkers have been found. While two were alive, seven had died. The exact reason for deaths would be ascertained only after the post-mortem. Two trekkers still remain missing. More information is awaited.

It’s pertinent to mention that the Meteorological Department had issued warning of heavy rain and snow on October 18 alonwith an orange alert. 

Following are the details of the bodies recovered and persons rescued alive:

Deceased Persons

  1. Anita Rawat (38) D/o Sh. Jyoti Singh R/o M 95 Harinagar, West Bengal
  2. Tanmay Tiwari (30), S/o Sh R.C. Tiwari, R/o Kishan Nagar, Kolkata 3
  3. Vikas Makal(33) son of Swapan Maikal, Raghabpur Nepalganj, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal
  4. Saurabh Gosh (34) S/o Sushil Ghosh, R/o Nepalganj, South 24 West Bengal
  5. Subhayan Das (28) S/o Kajal Das, R/o 10/1A Nepal Bhatacharia G Streak Kalighat, West Bengal
  6. Richard Mandal (31) From West Bengal
  7. Upender (22) from Uttarkashi

Detail of Missing persons:

  1. Sukenh Manjhi(43) From West Bengal
  2. Gyan Chand (33) from Uttarkashi

Details of Injured Person

  1. Devendra Chauhan, S/o Hariram, R/o Village Gangad, Thana Mary, Uttarkashi. (company guide)
  2. Mithun Dari, S/o Swar Badal Ch Dari, R/o Prasadpur, PostAndhar Manik, South 24 Pargans, West Bengal

 

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HP By-Polls 2021: Silence Period Extended to Three Days

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hp by polls 2021 silence period

Shimla-The campaigning period during Himachal Pradesh by-elections has been fixed from 10 am to 7 pm every day. The silence period has been extended from two days to three days before the closing date of voting, which will start after 6 pm on 27th October 2021.

During the no active campaigning by the candidates or political parties is allowed, and television or any digital media cannot carry any election-related matter.

This information was released by Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh, C. Paulrasu. He said that the Election Commission of India has limited the period of campaigning during by-election 2021 in view of the guidelines issued for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has urged all the candidates and political parties participating in the by-elections of Mandi Parliamentary Constituency and Fatehpur, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Arki Assembly Constituencies to comply with these guidelines related to the election campaign.

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity Scholar Naincy Bags Scholarship to Pursue PhD in France

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Naincy Sagar uhf nauni scholar

Solan: Naincy Sagar, an alumna of Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni has bagged a fellowship for pursuing PhD from France. Nancy has reached France and will be pursuing PhD in Forest Genetics from the University of Orléans under INRAE fellowship. INRAE is France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Naincy has completed her BSc Forestry from College of Horticulture and Forestry (COH&F), Neri in 2018 and MSc Forest Biology and Tree Improvement and Genetic Resources from UAS, Dharwad, under ICAR’s National Talent Scheme. Before leaving for France last week, Naincy was working as a Junior Research Fellow in a research project at COH&F, Neri.

She had applied for a PhD with a scholarship in Forest Genetics which was advertised by INRAE. Naincy was successful in the interview and was awarded a fellowship for three years for pursuing PhD at the University of Orléans. During the course of the PhD, she will receive a total scholarship of around Rs 70 lakh along with medical reimbursement. Naincy will be working on forest tree larch species in the Project titled ‘Vigour at what cost? ‘Trade-off’ of hybrid vigour in Larch-Phenological, morphological and physiological determinants of hybrid superiority in Larix X eurolepis’ with a team of 20 scientists of Joint Integrated Biology Research Unit having expertise in genetics, genomics and physiology for the enhancement of tree and forest diversity

Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor of the university spoke to Naincy via web conferencing and congratulated her. Dr. Kaushal, who has also done his doctorate from France, shared some tips and suggestions. He asked Naincy to explore this opportunity to learn about new cultures along with doing research that could help to enhance and conserve forest wealth in the future.

Naincy expressed gratitude towards her father Satya Prakash Sagar (Retd. SDO BSNL) and mother Monika Sagar, who is working as SDO in BSNL for their continuous support for higher studies. She also thanked Vice-Chancellor Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Dean Dr. Kamal Sharma and Dr. Dushyant Sharma, Project Investigator and all the university staff for their support and guidance. The university administration, Dean of COH&F Neri congratulated Naincy and wished her success.  

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