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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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101 Leprosy Cases Detected in Himachal During the Last One Year  

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leprosy cases in himachal pradesh

Shimla-A Spokesperson of the Himachal Pradesh Government today informed that under the National Health Mission, National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) is being implemented for the patients suffering from Leprosy. It aims to eliminate leprosy from every district of the Nation by 2030. He informed that the State of Himachal Pradesh has already eliminated leprosy by achieving the prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000 population in the year 2000.

The Government Spokesperson informed that the total number of new leprosy cases as detected from 1st April 2021 to 31st January 2022 is 101.

A maximum number of 29 cases were reported from the district Solan, followed by 18 from district Shimla, 12 from district Kangra, 9 from district Chamba, 8 from district Una. The 7 new cases of leprosy were detected in district Bilaspur, 6 in district Mandi, 5 in district Sirmaur, 4 in district Hamirpur and 3 in district Kinnaur. He added that no cases of leprosy were detected in district Kullu and Lahaul & Spiti.

The Government Spokesperson told that active case detection and regular surveillance activity is being conducted by ASHA workers in the villages where leprosy cases have been detected in the last 3 years. This is to ensure the detection of leprosy cases at an early stage to prevent any further disabilities.

He said that the ASHA workers are provided with an incentive for detecting new leprosy cases with or without disability (Rs. 250 and Rs. 200 per case). He added that the contacts of leprosy patients are also traced and provided free treatment post-exposure with a single dose of Rifampicin to prevent further transmission in the community.

The Government Spokesperson further added that the treatment of leprosy is being provided free of cost and available at all Primary Health Centres. The microcellular rubber (MCR) footwear are provided to leprosy patients twice a year. He said to ensure complete treatment of leprosy patients, ASHA workers are incentivized.

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HP Cabinet Decisions: All Educational Institutes to Open from Feb 17th, Several Covid Restrictions Lifted, Read Other Decisions  

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hp cabinet meeting february 14 2022

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on February 14, 2022, held a meeting.

The State Cabinet decided to open all the educational institutions in the State from 17th February 2022. It also decided that all gyms and cinema halls would be opened and all kinds of langars would be allowed.

The Cabinet decided to grant revised pension/ family pension to about 1.73 lakh pensioners/family pensioners of the State from 1st February 2022. 

The State government said this decision would ensure the revision of pension/family pension of 1.30 lakh pensioners/family pensioners from 1st January 2016. About 43,000 employees, who have retired between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2021 would also get revised pension and gratuity.

Now minimum pension/ family pension would increase from Rs. 3500 per month to Rs. 9000 per month from 1st January 2016, the HP government said. The limit of gratuity has been increased from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh from 1st January 2016 which would also be applicable for NPS employees.

Pensioners/family pensioners of the State above 80 years would be provided due additional pension benefit on revised pension/family pension. The Cabinet also decided to provide Invalid Pension and Family Pension to NPS employees of the State Government on which Rs. 250 crores would be spent.

The Cabinet also decided to provide 31 percent dearness relief to the pensioners from 1st July 2021. An annual additional expenditure of Rs. 1785 crore would be incurred on account of the revision of pension. The State Government said it had already provided Rs. 1450.44 crore to the pensioners as interim relief.

The Cabinet gave its approval for the creation and filling up of 8 posts of Sub Fire Officers in the Himachal Pradesh Fire Services Department on a contract basis through Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission.

 It also gave its approval to open three new Sub Fire Stations at Dheera in Kangra district, Bhatiyat in Chamba district and at Rewalsar in Mandi district and three new Fire Posts at Chirgaon in Shimla, Bhoranj in Hamirpur district and South Portal of Atal Tunnel Rohtang.

 It also gave its nod for creating and filling up of one post of Sub Fire Officer, 2 posts of Leading Fireman, 14 posts of Firemen, and six posts of driver-cum pump operator in each newly created Sub Fire Station and one post of leading fireman 

It also gave nod to fill up 12 posts of firemen and four posts of driver cum pump operator in each newly opened Fire Post

The Cabinet gave its nod to the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and M/s NABARD Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. for the hiring of Single Resource Consultancy to establish Project Management Unit.

The purpose, the government said, was the implementation of the new centrally sponsored scheme ‘Financing Facility under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.  

The government said this scheme would help the farming community as interest subvention and credit guarantee would be given for the post-harvest infrastructure and building of community farming assets like e-market platforms, warehouses, silos, pack houses, cold chains etc

It decided to notify Sardar Patel University Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (Establishment and Regulation) Act, 2022 from 1st April 2022 to set up a new State University at Mandi.

It also decided to open Degree College Ghandalwi in Bilaspur district.

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HP Statehood Day 2022: Relaxation in Electricity Charges, Third Option in New Pay scale, Higher Pay scale to Constables and other Announcements

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government, on the 52nd Statehood Day, has made several announcements. It announced 31 percent DA to employees, relaxation on electricity charges up to 60 units, enhancement of annual income for availing benefit of pensions and welfare schemes.

Benefits of higher scales would be provided immediately to all those constables who were eligible for higher scales. All the constables appointed after 2015 would be eligible for higher scale as per other categories of employees, the government announced.

The State Government announced that now while implementing the new pay scale, the employees would be given a third option besides two options already given to them. The State has recently implemented new pay scales for employees of the State Government. The state government said it felt that few disparities existed in the new pay scales of few categories.

Pensioners of the State Government would also be given pension as per the new pay scales of the Punjab government, the government announced.

The government also announced 31 per cent DA to all the employees of the State at par with the Central Government employees. Also, an increase in annual income for availing the benefits of various welfare schemes and pensions for the weaker sections of the society from existing Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 was announced.

Now, the domestic consumers of the state whose electricity consumption is up to 60 units per month would not be charged any fee per electricity unit.  They would be incurred zero cost per unit of electricity consumed. With this decision, domestic consumers whose electricity consumption is up to 125 units, would be charged only one rupee per unit cost.  Over 11 lakh domestic consumers would be benefitted from this decision and the State government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 60 crore on providing this relief, the government informed.

For the farmers in the state, the government announced to reduce the present per unit cost of electricity from 50 paise to 30 paise.  This benefit will be payable from April 2022.

Further, the HP Government said that in the year 1971, the per capita income of the state was only Rs 651 which has increased to Rs. 1,83,286, the GDP of the State has gone up from Rs 223 crore in 1971 to Rs 1,56,522 crore. The literacy rate of the State has gone up to 82.80 percent which was 23 percent in 1971. The agricultural production in the state has increased from 954 metric tons to 1500 metric tons and food grain production in 1971 was 9.40 lakh MT which has increased to 16.74 lakh MT, the state government said.

The state-level function of 52nd Statehood Day was celebrated at historic Thodo ground in Solan, where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unfurled the Tricolor and took salute from the contingents of Police, IRB Jungalberi, Home Guards and, NCC girls etc.

The parade was commanded by DSP Pranav Chauhan.

The Chief Minister also honoured three war widows of Solan District including Dil Kumari Thapa, Savitri Devi and Nirmala Devi on this occasion. Head constable Sandeep Chandel was also felicitated by the Chief Minister who has been awarded Prime Ministers Police Medal for life-saving for the year 2018.  

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