Ranchi/Dhanbad, July 14: The state health department has suspended Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) principal Dr Renu Bala for alleged involvement in a drug scam, estimated to be worth Rs 32 crore.
Health department sources said the suspension came in the wake of a vigilance probe into the case (number 06/2004). She has been charged under sections 409/420/467/468/471/109/120.
Health minister Dinesh Sarangi confirmed that the suspension order has been issued.
“Renu Bala was charged with purchasing drugs in violation of prescribed norms when she was superintendent of Patliputra Medical College and Hospital. There were many irregularities in the purchases. The vigilance bureau had lodged an FIR in the case,” sources said.
They added that after detecting irregularities in the purchases, the vigilance bureau requested the health department to initiate a departmental inquiry into the episode.
The probe found her involvement in the case, which led to her suspension, they claimed.
However, Renu Bala said she was not aware of her suspension. “I am still the principal of the medical college as I am yet to receive any formal suspension letter from the department.
“This is true that I made withdrawals slightly higher than the budget amount. But we are technical persons and, as such, we don’t understand much the intricacies of the budget allocation. Besides, the excess amount is only slightly higher than the budget. It’s not a big amount,” she said.
Many civil surgeons had come under the vigilance scanner when the drug scam was detected.
He alleged irregularities included payment despite non-supply of drugs, purchase of sub-standard and expired drugs, giving preferential treatment to lesser known pharmaceutical companies and ignoring the norms prescribed by the state government.
Many civil surgeons were suspended and taken into judicial custody recently when the charges of irregularities were established. Last month, the vigilance bureau had recommended suspension and departmental action against half-a-dozen personnel of the health department in the case.
Sources said the vigilance department had lodged a first information report against five persons, including the superintendent, in a case of irregularities in the purchase of drugs at Sadar Hospital, Palamau. The others are a head clerk, two clerks and a storekeeper.
The sources said the department secretary, after receiving the recommendations from the vigilance bureau, had directed his officials to take action against the accused.
According to the sources, the vigilance bureau has reportedly lodged more than a dozen FIRs in the drug scam with the names of over 50 officers and employees.
Some of the prominent accused include a Deoghar surgeon, a Pakur surgeon, a Dumka surgeon, a Jamsehdpur surgeon, a Chaibasa surgeon and a Ranchi surgeon. There are many ACMOs also in the list of accused.
Ranchi Indian Medical Association president C.B. Sinha refused to comment on the matter, saying he has no knowledge of the case.
“Let us collect the facts in this case. Then only will I be able to comment on the issue. At the moment, I am not even aware that she has been suspended,” Sinha said.