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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: COVID-19 Claims 116 Lives in 25 Days, Still No Concrete Strategy to Combat Community Spread

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himachal pradesh covid-19 community spread

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh didn’t get any respite from rising number of fatalities on September 25 too. Seven more patients succumbed to the infection. These deaths were reported from Shimla (2), Solan (2), Chamba (1), Siramur (1), and Hamirpur (1). The patients included six males and one female aged between 35-66 years.  According to the Health Department, two of the deceased were patients of diabetes mellitus.  (View details of the deceased below). So far, 152 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Further, according to the official report, a total of 293 cases were traced yesterday. The official tally had reached 13679 till 9:00 PM yesterday. (Scroll down for district-wise statistics).

Despite the onset of community spread, the state hasn’t come out with any projection of the actual number of cases and deaths. There is no word on a strategy for combating community spread and minimize the casualties. Of the total 152 deaths traced by the government, 116 casualties were reported in the last 25 days of the September month. On average, the state is reporting four COVID-19 casualties per day during the current month.

Meanwhile, Dr Lokender Sharma, who was removed from the position of the Medical Superintendent, DDU, Shimla, following a suicide of a COVID-19 patient, has come out with statements which refer to the callous attitude of the state Health Department and its higher officials. He said that there was no negligence on his part and that he was ready for any inquiry. He said the higher officials are washing their hands of responsibilities by putting the entire blame on hospital administration and doctors. He again referred to the shortage of staff and his repeated reminders to the department regarding the same. However, it’s pertinent to mention that the actual cause of the suicide was yet to be ascertained.

Govt Not Prepared for Peak Period of COVID-19 Spread: Sanjay Chauhan

The incident has led to protests from oppositions who allege ill-preparedness of the government in combating COVID-19. Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a leader of Communist Party of India (M), said that the incident highlights miserable state of and mismanagement at the COVID-19 hospitals. He said there is an acute shortage of health staff including doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff at the DDU hospital. More than 30 percent of posts are vacant at the hospital, he added.

The government has been claiming it an achievement to receive 500 ventilators, but there is no staff to operate them, he said. He said that the leaders of the ruling government are also criticizing the miserable state of the COVID-19 hospitals and asking to fix it.

“Instead of formulating any concrete plan to attend to this issue, the government is emphasizing on ‘Havans’ which is unscientific. It clearly displays the backward and unscientific approach of the ruling party,”

Chauhan said.

He said that the government should prepare a strategy to combat the spread on a war footing and constitute a task force under able leadership. The Chief Minister should call for an all-party meeting to gain their support  to ensure appropriate preparedness to combat the peak period, he said.

Chief Minister Focused on PM Visit ahead of Rohtang Tunnel

The Chief Minister, however, did preside over a “Media Plan” meeting yesterday pertaining to the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the State on October 3, 2020 to inaugurate Atal Tunnel Rohtang.

Chief Minister directed the officers to ensure elaborate arrangements for installation of LED screens at different locations for the live telecast of the event. He directed the authorities to make special arrangements for the VVIP visits. He said that appropriate hoardings must be installed at different sites including district headquarters. A proper media centre with the internet and other facilities must be established to facilitate the media persons, he directed the officials. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 25, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths on september 25, 2020

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Himachal: 10 COVID-19 Deaths in Single Day Take Tally to 145, DDU MS Replaced Following Patient Suicide

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Shimla-DDU covid-19 patient suicide 2

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh reported 10 COVID-19 deaths on September 24, 2020, which took the state’s death tally to 145. This is the biggest single-day-spike in the fatalities – a matter of huge worry amid community spread. Kangra district reported the highest six deaths while Shimla, Chamba,  Sirmaur, and Kullu reported one death each. The deceased including eight males and two females were aged between 55-78 years. At least five of these deceased were patients of diabetes mellitus.So far,

So far,  Kangra district has reported the highest 37 deaths, followed by Shimla (24), Solan (23), Mandi (20), Una (10), Sirmaur (10), Chamba (8), Hamirpur (6), Kullu (5), Bilaspur (1), and Kinnaur (1).

Go through the reasons of deaths given by the state Health Department below:Himachal pradesh corona deaths Sept 24

According to the official update, 337 new positive cases were registered yesterday. The total for the state has now reached 13,386. (Scroll down to view statistics for all districts)

DDU MS Replaced After COVID-19 Patient Suicide 

As part of the damage control, the Medical Superintendent of Shimla’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital, Lokender Sharma, was replaced after a COVID-19 patient committed suicide inside the hospital premises. Dr Ramesh Chauhan has been appointed as the new MS.  The case has led to protests against poor facilities and mismanagement in COVID-19 hospitals in the state. The opposition even staged a protest on September 5.

Reacting to his removal, Dr Lokender denied any negligence on his part and said he had been working with insufficient staff and limited facilities. He also alleged that the administration did not consider his repeated complaint regarding the same. Himachal Pradesh Medical Officers Association (HMOA) has also pointed out that the state government has not done anything to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to deal with the pandemic. They also pointed out the lack of trained staff.

These developments, including a sudden spurt in the fatality rate among COVID-19 patients, are now exposing the poor preparedness of the state government. The government doesn’t seem to have any clue about controlling the spread. There is no data on the projected number of actual cases as it is not possible to trace all infected amid a community spread.

While there is a dire need to make more efforts to save lives, the government and the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur appear to be busy in preparing for the visit of the Prime Minister Narender Modi for the opening of the Rohtang Tunnel.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 24, 2020 (9 PM)

DDU COVID Patient suicide in himachal pradesh

Feature Photo: [email protected]

 

 

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Five More COVID-19 Deaths, Three Suicides, Shimla’s Kotkhai Nagar Panchayat Sealed

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shimla kotkhai nagar panchayat sealed

Shimla– Five more COVID-19 casualties were reported in Himachal Pradesh on September 23, 2020. According to the official update from the Health Department, a total of 280 cases were reported till 9:00 pm today . The COVID-19 death tally is rising at an alarming rate with the onset of a community spread. Currently, a total of 135 persons have lost their lives due to COVID-19.(Scroll down for district-wise statistics)

These deaths were reported from Solan (1), Kangra (2), and Mandi (2). The deceased aged between 58 years to 77. Read the reasons for deaths below:

Shimla- kotkhai nagar panchayat sealed

Kotkhai Nagar Panchayat Sealed for Four Days

Kotkhai Nagar panchayat of Shimal district was sealed today after four persons tested positive at the CHC, Kotkhai. However, there is one case which has increased worries for both the people and the administration.

According to the BMO, Kotkhai, one of these persons, identified as Kavinder Kanwar, runs a car parking at the Kotkhai Bazaar. He also runs a newspaper distribution agency in the same area and deals in mobile recharge business. He frequently handles keys of cars parked in the parking as part of his routine task, it was informed.

“It is quite possible that the concerned positive person has also surely visited several shops and public places in Kotkhai bazaar during the last four days. In this situation, it is difficult to find out the exact contact tracing history due to which there is a high risk of surface transmission and risk of a direct contact person to person,”

informed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Theog, in a notification issued today.   

Therefore, the administration has declared the entire Kotkhai Nagar panchayat as containment zone and sealed it except for essential services for four days (till September 27th).

The local police have been directed to restrict any entry to or exit from the area. The BMO has been asked to undertake contact tracing and the Secretary of the Nagar panchayat area has been directed to sanitize the entire area.   

COVID-19 Positive Woman Ends Life at DDU, Shimla

A woman, who was tested positive for COVID-19, and was admitted to the DDU hospital, Shimla, ended her life on the intervening night of September 22-23. The exact reason for the suicide was yet to be ascertained.

Further, two suicides in Kangra district have been associated with the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the deceased worked at a fuel station.  The second person was a cab driver. According to the English daily, The Tribune, he had recently received a notice from the bank over non-payment of his loan that he had taken to buy a cab. These suicides are indicators that the people are in dire need of relief from the state government. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 23, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 Fatalities on september 23

 

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