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HP Health Dept Scam: Vigilance Probe an Eyewash, ‘Medical Mafia’ Given Time to Destroy Evidence, Alleges CPI(M)

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Himachal PRadesh Health department scam vigilance probe

Shimla-The alleged scams in the Health Department of Himachal Pradesh Government in the purchase of medical equipment like PPE kits, ventilators, sanitizers etc. in a time of a pandemic has shocked the people. Alleged corruption in the Government Departments has come as a shock because during an emergency like corona pandemic when the positive cases are still spiraling upward in the State, it was expected that corrupt officials and politicians would spare the people as it was about their lives.  

Also Read: HP Health Dept Scam: Accused Director Granted Bail

The State Government led by the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur might have ordered a probe into the scam but questions are being raised over the authenticity of these investigations as influential politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have been linked to these scams.

Also Read: Official Suspended in ‘HP Secretariat Sanitizer Scam’

The opposition, some senior leaders of the ruling party, MLAs, and activists in the State are of the opinion that the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau is just another tool under the State Government. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is running the Health Ministry, and the sudden resignation of BJP Chief Rajeev Bindal after a week the scam came to light has already raised several questions.

Also Read: HP Health Dept Scam: There is More to It Than Just Alleged Bribery

The opposition Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have been expressing fears of biased investigations in which justice won’t be served. Both had been demanding transfer of the case to the State High Court. Congress has already submitted a memorandum regarding the same to the Governor. On June 3, 2020, Theog MLA Rakesh Singha with a delegation of CPI(M) also met the Governor with a demand of transferring the case to the State High Court for a fair probe.   

In its memorandum, the party said that there is prima facie evidence to establish the failure of the government to prevent corruption in the purchase of vital health equipment required to combat corona pandemic. 

Also Read: HP Health Dept Issues Clarification Over Alleged Irregularities in ‘Ventilator Purchase’

In the memorandum, the party cited several reasons to convince the Governor that the Vigilance Inquiry instituted by the HP Government is just an eye wash.

Following are the reasons/facts cited in the memorandum:

(Note: The below-given information has not been edited by Himachal Watcher and published as mentioned in the memorandum)

  1. The Vigilance investigation failed to take steps between 21.05.2020 and 25.05.2020 to siege relevant documents, question the possible chain of culprits, and take relevant persons in their custody when one of the accused Dr. AK Gupta was allowed admission in IGMC. In fact, it is with the tacit approval of the Vigilance that the accused was permitted to avoid investigation at the earliest point of time and opportunity was given to the “Medical Mafia” to destroy relevant evidence available. Political Powerful of the ruling party are remote controlling the Corruption Gangsters.
  2. It is indigestible that Mr. Prithvi Singh the Marketing Manager of Apex Diagnostics and Former President (SC Morcha) BJP, District Sirmour was not taken into custody under the provisions of Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption (Amended) Act 2018. He has been given preferential treatment for obvious reasons.
  3. The of the Vigilance team is determined to exonerate the accused, which is evident from the fact that by examination of the purchase of various items essential for dealing COVID19 pandemic would have unearthed another corruption deal of the 10 ventilators purchased by the Health Department. Which, as per the report of the Danik Jagran, the so-called ventilator were purchased for approximately Rupees Ten lacs each while the same ventilator cost approximately Rupees 3 lacs only. Had it not been for the vigilante media, this vital fact would also have been brushed under the carpet.

Moreover, historically the organ of Vigilance department has been used as a tool by successive governments:

(i) To dilute the obvious resentment of the people whenever corruption cases are brought to light by the media, by competing groups attempting to corner the fruits of corrupt practices, or unearthing corrupt deals by progressive forces in the society.

(ii) To shield the corrupt but at the same time create illusions amongst the people that the government is serious on the issue of corrupt practices and the culprits would not be spared.

“ You are also well aware under the era of crony capitalism the nexus of the corporate, bureaucracy and politicians needs to be smashed to save the system from a total collapse which is heading towards given the depth and intensity of the crises which is the visible world over,”

the memorandum stated.

Therefore, the party requested the Governor to intervene under the special  powers bestowed  on his honorable office  by the Constitution  of India to direct the government  on specific  issues i.e.:

  1. To direct the Government to hand over the corruption case of purchase of medical items and equipment (e.g. Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), sanitizers etc.) being investigated by the Himachal Pradesh Vigilance department to the Hon’ble High Court for appropriate directions as well as investigations.
  2. To direct the Himachal Pradesh Government to place all fund collections received by it for combating COVID-19 pandemic in the public domain by publishing a white paper.
  3. To advice the Government to constitute an Ethical Committee for approval of all medical equipment purchased for dealing with COVID-19 as mandated per the Medical Devices Rules, 2017 and abide by the guidelines of the Drug Controller General of India in relation to items which fall within its purview. The system should be placed to put all the details of purchases, tenders and stock be placed in the public domain, preferably on Government web site.

 

 

Misc News/Press Release

After Booking About 200 Women in Spiti, CM Now Urges Rural Women to be Vigilant About Quarantine Violations

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Tribal woman in kinnaur arrested

Shimla-On the one hand, Himachal Pradesh Government is allegedly harassing nearly 200 tribal women of Spiti for being vigilant and denying entry to the large convey of Cabinet Minister Ram Lal Markanda early in June for not following the rules regarding quarantine, but on the other hand Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is urging the womenfolk to keep a strict vigil on the people coming home from other States, who have been kept in-home quarantine.

Also Read: Haughty Minister Allegedly Heckling Tribal Women Who Dared to Deny Him Entry in District Over Quarantine Violation

He urged them to help to monitor such people so that they don’t jump home quarantine. He said that this would help in checking the spread of this virus at the community level. He was reportedly interacting with rural women who are beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna on Monday.

The Chief Minister also made a big claim that Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in the country where cent percent households have LPG gas connections.

Thakur made a claim that there is no more collecting fuel wood and cooking food on traditional chullah in the State. Now, rural women do not have to go out for collecting fuel wood, Additional Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar added to the CM’s claim.

The CM claimed that Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna, gas connections were provided free of cost to 1.36 lakh families of the State. 

Under State Government’s Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojna, 2,76,243 families were provided free gas connections in the State.                               

 

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HIMCARE: Last Date for Registration/Renewal Extended

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Himachal Pradesh Himcare Registration and Renewal

Shimla: The last date for renewal of HIMCARE card has been extended till 15th July 2020, the Additional Chief Secretary Health R.D. Dhiman had informed recently. Under this scheme, free health treatment is provided upto rupees five lakh. 

 He said that new eligible families can also register upto 15th July 2020. Besides this, those families can also renew their cards on completion of a time period of 365 days. The beneficiaries can visit the website for registration and renewal or can visit the nearest Lok Mitra centre.

It is mandatory to upload the required documents for registration and renewal of card and the list of required documents was available on the website.

ACS said that those families whose card has expired on 30th June 2020, didn’t renew their card till 15th July 2020, then they would have to wait till January and would not be able to avail the benefit of free health treatment.

Tourism Activities in Himachal to Increase, Stay Alert: ACS Dhiman

Further, on Monday, Dhiman said the economic and tourism activities would be increasing in the State, therefore, it was important to stay alert of this virus for self-safety and safety of the society.

This statement regarding safety from coronavirus is contrary to the decisions of the state government to open tourism activity amid a spurt in COVID-19 cases.

The State Government is facing a backlash from every sphere of society for opening borders for all, especially tourists, without the need of e-pass or permission from the authorities. This decision is more likely to fuel the COVID-19 outbreak in the State.

At the same time, Dhiman is asking the people not to get afraid of coronavirus and to follow the guidelines issued by the Government, maintain self-hygiene, keeping a physical distance of one meter or three feet from another person, to avoid crowding at one place, cover the mouth with a mask or face cover and do not touch the nose, eyes and mouth.

He also asked the people to avoid such wards in the hospital where patients of coronavirus were being treated. In case a person was suffering from fever, cough, cold or having difficulty in breathing, the person should immediately contact helpline number 104 or avail services of e-sanjeevani OPD.

He also asked the people to avoid such wards in the hospital where patients of coronavirus were being treated. In case a person was suffering from fever, cough, cold or having difficulty in breathing, the person should immediately contact helpline number 104 or avail services of e-sanjeevani OPD.

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Himachal: Tourists from Neighboring States Line Up at Borders, Residents Allege Discrimination in Quarantine Rules  

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Himachal Pradesh - tourist start coming

Shimla: With the decision of Jairam Thakur-led State Government to allow tourist activity and to allow people from other states to enter Himachal Pradesh without obtaining e-pass or permission from district authorities, a beeline of vehicles was seen at the Parwanoo inter-state barrier on Sunday. This led to a traffic jam as over 1700 vehicles including both residents and tourists lined up at the barrier.

A large number of them were sent back from the barrier as they lacked required COVID-19 negative report or had not registered on the e-pass portal.

However, several tourists were allowed to enter the state after verifying their documents and COVID-19 reports, the authorities said.

According to a media report, some tourists reached Kasauli and Barog – popular spots for weekend tourism. They reportedly returned after spending a few hours. Contrary to this, the mandatory condition for tourist entry says that visitors would have to make a booking of a minimum of five days.

Similarly, visitors and returnees had reached other boarders like in Swarghat and Mehatpur. 

Also Read: All SOPs for Hotels, Restaurants, Home-Stays and Others Involved in Tourism Industry

Another issue that the authorities would face is verifying that all tourists who had entered the State returned. Tourist would have to furnish a COVID-19 negative report not older than 72 hours, register on the online portal, and make an advance booking of a minimum of five days. The SOPs have not defined as to how to verify that every single tourists have existed the state after the expiry of the mentioned duration.

Further, residents of the State are questioning the government over discrimination in quarantine rules. While tourist can enter the state and roam around for a few days without being quarantined, the residents would have to follow institutional and home-quarantine strictly even if they have a COVID-19 negative report.

Also Read: Tourist Activity Allowed, Read New Rules for Entering State, Quarantine, Plying of Public Transport

It’s pertinent to mention that the Government is already facing a backlash over its decision to open the State borders for tourists at a time when the State is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases. The hoteliers were also not in favour of opening the State for tourists. The residents are feeling insecure following this decision as they fear it would lead to a bigger coronavirus outbreak. With appearance of 17 new cases yesterday, the the COVID-19 tally for the State had reached 1064. 

Considering the beeline of tourist vehicles merely after 48 hours of the announcement to allow tourism activity, it is clear that tourists are likely to flood the state in the coming days. Monsoon would be the only deterrent currently. What’s concerning is that hospitality industry did not get any time to train staff or arrange all facilities mentioned in the SOPs issued by the State Government. 

The public and hoteliers are of the opinion that this decision was taken in a haste without any consideration for consequences. On the other hand the State Government claims that it had asked the Centre to allow it manage the influx of visitors/returnees in accordance with the current situation. This request, Government said, was declined by the Centre. The Government believes that opening Himachal for tourists would bring relief to those employed in the hospitality industry. 

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