The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The West Bengal State AIDS Prevention and Control Society gave advances to different implementing agencies during 1999-2001 and the outstanding advance stood at Rs 4.97 crore (76 per cent of total expenditure of 2000-01) in different offices as on March 31, 2001.

Rupees 4 crore was kept in the PL Account as of March 31 1997 by the State AIDS Cell office, which could not be spent fully in the next two years till the close of the State AIDS Cell office in August 1998. Rupees 59.15 lakh remained unutilized as of March 31, 1999.

Though the AIDS Cell was declared officially closed in August 1998, it spent Rs 88.96 lakh between April 1999 and April 2000 unauthorizedly, instead of utilizing the fund through WBSAPCS.

Out of the urgent purchase of medicines worth Rs 29.47 lakh for sexually transmitted diseases in the Second Family Health Awareness Campaign from January 26, 2000, to February 9, 2000, medicines worth Rs 2.48 lakh remained unutilized till December 2000 and medicines worth Rs 1.51 lakh and Rs 0.45 lakh were issued to the State AIDS Cell office and the Writers’ Buildings Health Unit, both of which have no STD clinics. The possibility of misutilization and diversion of medicines cannot be ruled out.

Excess expenditure of Rs 2.08 lakh was incurred by the State AIDS Cell towards purchase of medicines disregarding CMS approved rate in 1998-99, while the superintendents of NRS Hospital, Calcutta, and Durgapur Sub-Division Hospital incurred an extra expenditure of Rs 1.51 lakh and Rs 0.60 lakh respectively for purchase of chemicals and test tubes at higher rates. The project director stated (April 2001) that the purchases were made from a state government undertaking as there wasn’t sufficient time for a market survey while the superintendents of NRS Hospital and Durgapur SD Hospital accepted the observation of irregular purchases.

Rupees 40 lakh and Rs 1.27 lakh were diverted for purchase of refrigerator and general medicine by the superintendent, Bardhaman Medical College Hospital, and Kalna Sub-Divisional Hospital respectively from the STD and blood safety funds.

The deputy chief medical officer of health II of Darjeeling district drew Rs 4.50 lakh in March 1999 for an airconditioner bill which remained unadjusted till July 2001. Rupees 58,500 drawn for the AC Bill in October 1997 was refunded in January 2000, after 2 years.

Darjeeling AIDS Control Centre paid Rs 17.93 lakh to four nongovernmental organizations for Target Intervention programmes not approved by the National AIDS Control Board, Government of India.

During the year 1998-99, Rs 2.25 lakh was allotted to the Bardhaman Medical College Hospital by the AIDS Cell of the department of health and family welfare, for blood safety measures, an STD clinic, and for information, education and communication activities. However the whereabouts of these funds could not be ascertained in an audit of the records of the hospital.

Monitoring and Evaluation: though five years of the first phase and three years of the second phase had passed, no monitoring and evaluation of the programme at the state level was done by NACO or by the state government. Baseline, mid-term and annual performance and expenditure review had not even been done after three years of the second phase of the National AIDS Control Programme. Base-level data had not been collected at the state level to help corrective action to be taken up the AIDS Control Society.

Rupees 22.91 crore was spent during 1996-2001 under the AIDS Prevention and Control Programme, aimed at reducing HIV and AIDS affected cases. The programme thus failed to have adequate impact as HIV positive and AIDS cases increased from 1,246 (1998) to 2,357 (2000) and from 114 (1998) to 637 (2000), respectively. The state government failed to utilize 63-70 per cent of the funds received from the government during 1996-98. Again, much of the utilized funds were actually advances for which accounts were not available. Large quantity of blood was transfused without HIV testing.

Modernization of blood banks was not completed in 30 out of the 59 targeted blood banks, though funds were not a constraint. Several expensive machines were lying unutilized in state hospitals. IEC activities and target intervention programmes for sex workers, truck drivers, migrant labour and street children were also not effective.

The matter was referred to the government way back in September 2001; reply had not been received till January 2002.

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