Suspended officers still on duty
Two months have passed after health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey announced in the Legislative Council that five senior health officers were being suspended on the charges of irregularities and indiscipline, but the department is yet to issue formal suspension orders.
Asked why his orders were not complied with, Choubey fumbled for words and said it was “under process” and “such things take procedural time”. On February 29, Choubey had announced that the civil surgeons of Saran, East Champaran, Gaya and Rohtas districts and the drug inspector of Gaya — who were found prima facie guilty of financial irregularities in procurement and distribution of drugs — were being suspended from their services.
However, the five officers are still continuing in their respective posts.
Sources in the health department blamed “red-tapism” for the delay, saying that the file was stuck for approval. The orders were initiated against the officials on the charges of various irregularities in the appointment of dentists, disobeying executive orders and indiscipline.
Health principal secretary Amarjeet Sinha meanwhile said the department had done its part and the file was being sent to the chief minister’s secretariat for approval.
According to sources, the action was initiated following a series of raids and departmental inquiries in those districts. A raid was carried out at Navratan transport agency in Gaya on February 20 and the civil surgeon was asked to submit a report on distribution of medicines in government hospitals within two days.
The official, however, neither complied with the orders, nor did he furnish probe de. Choubey had told the House that prima facie it seemed that civil surgeon and the drug inspector were involved in the medicine scam.
Later, the department had lodged an FIR against seven persons in Gaya in connection with the case.
In recent times, the department has often drawn flak for largescale anomalies in purchase and distribution of drugs meant for government hospitals across the state.
According to sources, the government’s drug procurement and distribution system has been faulty, which has led to largescale irregularities, cases of corruption and common man’s suffering.
Officials, meanwhile, said more such cases were coming to the fore as scrutiny has become more strict and frequent.
The officials, however, admitted that there were some problems in procuring drugs for the government health centres. “We provide medicines free of cost for most common ailments to outdoor and indoor patients in all state-run health facilities. Efforts to streamline drug procurement and distribution were made through rate contracting and cash-and-carry system. Through the system, civil surgeons in 38 districts and superintendents in medical colleges have been authorised to buy 223 medicines by 44 drug agencies on pre-approved rates,” a senior health official said.
He, however, added that in many cases the authorities buy drugs at high rates and from sub-standard medicine agencies that are not enlisted with the department.