The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Showcause to health officials

Calcutta, Oct. 27: Almost two months after the blood test kit scandal broke, the health department has showcaused two officials of the West Bengal State AIDS Prevention and Control Society, which floated the tender for the kits.

“Two officials who were in charge of checking the consignment have been show-caused. They cleared the kits which had passed their use-by dates without verification and sent the consignment to the Central Blood Bank and six other distribution centres,” said a senior health official.

He clarified that these officials were not involved in the tendering. “They were assigned to check the consignments before being despatched to the distribution centres. But they allowed Monozyme India to send the dud kits directly to the distribution centres.”

Monozyme, a company of the Sardas, two of whom — Govind and Ghanshyam — are now in custody, had allegedly supplied thousands of kits that were past expiry dates to test for HIV and Hepatitis B and C infection in donated blood. The Sardas deny the charge and say they did not supply kits to test HIV.

Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra admitted there was negligence. “An internal inquiry is on and stringent action will be taken against those found guilty,” he said.

When told that thousands of people might have received contaminated blood, the minister said: “We have asked for reports from all distribution centres. It will take time to get the number of people who might have been affected,” Mishra said.

The health official said the chief minister had asked for a report.

Asked whether his department was probing the corruption angle, the minister said: “Since the matter is in court, I cannot tell you. Everything will be clear in a month or two.”

The chief metropolitan magistrate of Calcutta today turned down the bail plea of Govind Sarda and remanded him in judicial custody till November 9.

Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee alleged that the racket had flourished with the direct involvement of the health department and demanded a CBI enquiry.

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