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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

MHA Guidelines: Schools, Cinema Halls and Other Facilities Allowed to Open from Oct 15

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Cinema-halls-in-shimla j

Shimla-Amid community spread in India, the Central government has decided to allow more activities including opening of schools, cinema halls, theatres, swimming pools, entertainment parks, and business exhibitions on a conditional basis. The Ministry of Home Affairs, GoI, on September 30 issued a notification regarding the same. These facilities/services would be allowed only outside containment zones and in accordance with the SOPs, the notification said.

Lockdowns would remain in force in notified containment zones till October 31.

Allowing opening in a graded manner after October 15, the Centre government has left the decision to re-open the schools and coaching institutions on the state governments. However, attending schools physically would not be compulsory and would require a written consent of the parents. The students who want to attend the classes online can opt to not attend schools physically. The Centre has directed not to enforce attendance on the students. Further, the schools would have to follow the SOPs, which would be prepared by the state governments.

The higher institutes would be opened only for PhD and post-graduate students in the science and technology stream who requires laboratory/experimental works.

Cinemas, theatres, and multiplexes have been allowed to open from October 15 with upto 50 percent of their seating capacity. SOPs regarding the same would issued soon.

Business to Business Exhibitions have also been allowed from October 15. Swimming pools which are being used for training of sportspersons will be also be allowed to open.

Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations have already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons. In closed spaces, a maximum of 50 percent of the hall capacity will be allowed with a ceiling of 200 persons. Wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, and provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizers have been made mandatory.

Himachal Pradesh government is expected to release SOPs regarding the opening of these facilities soon. The opening of these activities in Himachal Pradesh would be a challenge as the state has just begun with community spread and heading towards peak level. By September 30 (till 9:00 PM), the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had reached 14976, of which 3400 were active. A total of 181 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Himachal Pradesh. A high portion of these casualties has been reported during the last two months. Yesterday, the state health department could only trace 229 new positive cases. Three more persons died yesterday.

It’s pertinent to consider that the fatality rate is rising but the number of traced COVID-19 cases has been falling in the daily COVID-19 Bulletin issued by the state health department. At the same time, the state government seems to be under-prepared to combat rising number of cases. The shortage of quarantine facilities is one of the these challenges. Himachal Watcher had yesterday covered a similar issued reported from Kaithu market in Shimla city. (Watch the video below)

View the Complete MHA Notification Issued on September 30, 2020

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Alarming Rise in COVID-19 Deaths in Himachal as 18 Die in Two Days, 46 in a Week

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 daily update for september 27

Shimla-The traced number of patients of COVID-19 in Himachal Pradesh is falling in the official update issued by the state Health Department, but the fatality rate is rising at an alarming rate. During the last two days, the state has reported 18 COVID-19 deaths and 46 in the last week. On September 27, the state reported 11 fatalities.  The deceased aged between 48 – 93 years. As per the official statistics, a total of 195 cases were traced yesterday, which took the tally of confirmed cases in the state to 14191. The COVID-19 death tally for the state has now risen to 170.

Solan district has reported the highest 2918 cases, while Kangra district has reported the highest 42 deaths. 

Amid community spread, the state government was yet to issue any projections regarding the actual number of cases and deaths in the state. (Scroll down for latest district-wise statistics)

Details of COVID-19 Fatalities 

COVID-19 deaths in Himachal pradesh september 28

State government appeared to have woken up to issue a statement over the alarming rise in the fatality rate. It is now that the government has realized that the situation asks for a strong strategy.

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

It’s pertinent to mention that Prime Minister Narender Modi would be paying a visit to the state on October 3, 2020, to commission the Rohtang Tunnel. The state government is tirelessly working to facilitate VVIP guests.

“A common strategy must be prepared to provide proper treatment to the COVID-19 patients, especially with co-morbid illness,”

said an official statement issued yesterday.

“Proper strategy for Information Education and Communication (IEC) must be framed to motivate the patients with ILI symptoms to immediately rush to the hospital without delay, so that they may be provided with immediate treatment. This would help in timely treatment of the patients,”

the government said.

The doctors have been asked to ensure proper treatment to the patients, especially the patients with the co-morbid illness.

“Proper protocol must be adopted for home isolation for the asymptotic patients at home. It has been felt that such patients at home do not get proper treatment and care. Such patients must be treated as per the standard operating procedure,”

the government said.  

After questions were raised over the arrangements at the COVID-19 hospitals following the suicide of a positive patient at the DDU hospital Shimla, the government asked the officials to ensure proper hygiene and cleanliness at these hospitals.

The government asked the officials to provide hot water, Kada and nutritious food and develop a mechanism for communication of the COVID-19 patients and their family members.

Senior doctors have been asked to daily visit the patients. Directions have been given to Medical Superintendents of all the Medical Colleges and major Zonal Hospitals in the State to ensure at least two rounds in a day to monitor all the facilities such as ward cleanliness, treatment to the patients, quality of food, and condition of toilets in their hospitals.

Further, the government said that the isolation wards in Chamba, Hamirpur and Nahan Medical Colleges would start functioning from tomorrow.  It would also reduce the referral cases to IGMC Shimla, Dr RPMC, Tanda and LBSMC, Ner Chowk, the government said. The government also informed that 15 to 20 bedded isolation facilities would be provided in each of these medical colleges to facilitate the patients.

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

himachal pradesh covid-19 situation in september

 

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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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