An RTI application has unmasked a scam involving the former civil surgeon of Hazaribagh sadar hospital, in which life-saving drugs and medical products — apparently purchased at an expense of Rs 63 lakh — were never located.
Civil surgeon A.D.N. Prasad said he had tried to trace the medicines after taking over from predecessor B. Narayan, who had ordered the consignment of drugs in February-March. Narayan had joined office in January while Prasad assumed charge in June.
After failing to trace the medicines, Prasad informed higher-ups in July and, on the directions of DC Ravindra Kumar Agarwal, formed a team led by deputy collector Vidhan Chandra in August to probe into the matter.
The reply to the RTI application filed by Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha’s spokesperson Anil Sinha noted that the medicines were purchased by the civil surgeon taking into confidence only a hospital clerk, Ram Surendra Prasad.
As many as 36 types of drugs and medical products were purchased from Hindustan Antibiotics Limited (HAL), a Pune-based public sector manufacturer, Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceuticals Limited of Bangalore and Emkay Pharma, Mumbai.
The products included antibiotics, saline, cough syrups and syringes.
Anil Sinha said he had filed the RTI application on August 13 after failing to get details of the purchase. He added that he would take up the matter with Yashwant Sinha and request him to alert the BJP brass in Ranchi.
Health officials said the medicines in question were regularly used in hospitals, for medical treatment as well as performing surgeries. A sadar hospital source said the medicines were never delivered, adding that the discrepancies came to light only in the last week of July.
A member of the probe team said they were scrutinising the purchase records and questioning Narayan. Agarwal said, “The team will hand over a report to me within four days, after which I will able to comment on the episode.”
The former civil surgeon and clerk Prasad were unavailable for comment.
A health department official, requesting anonymity, said that HAL had been charged with supplying substandard medicines earlier, but no action was taken ever to blacklist it.
Sources in sadar hospital even claimed that the missing medicine episode was not an exception in Hazaribagh but similar cases went unnoticed in other districts too. They said only a thorough investigation would help net the “real culprits”.