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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Odisha: Central Bureau of Investigation arrests Paradip Port health officer in graft case, seizes foreign currency

Officer, identified as Dr Rajendra Narayan Panigrahi, was found in possession of huge properties disproportionate to his known sources of income

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 14.10.23, 07:02 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File picture

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested a port health officer (PHO) belonging to Government of India’s Port Health Organisation presently posted at the Paradip Port on the charges of demanding and accepting a bribe from an agent of a shipping company. He had demanded money for issuing medical clearance certificates to the crew members of a ship.

The officer, identified as Dr Rajendra Narayan Panigrahi, was found in possession of huge properties disproportionate to his known sources of income.

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In a media release, the CBI said: “A case was registered on complaint against said accused on the allegations of demanding bribe for issuance of Port Health Medical Clearance for the crew members working in the complainant’s company.”

The release further said: “CBI laid a trap and caught the accused while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 54,000. Searches were conducted at the premises of accused at Paradip, Cuttack and Balasore (Odisha) which resulted in recovery of cash of Rs 17 lakh (approx) & 20,558 US dollars and incriminating documents including documents pertaining to 5 properties at various places in Odisha and Hyderabad.”

During a search at the officer’s house in Paradip, the CBI officials found bundles of Indian currency notes and dollars. They had been hidden in different rooms and also toilets. The CBI team also raided his house at Cuttack and his ancestral house at Soro in Balasore.

According to the allegation, the doctor was demanding Rs 1,500 per head to give a health certificate to the crew members of the shipping company.

When the agent of the shipping company approached him, he demanded Rs 1.5 lakh. The agent agreed to give Rs 54,000.

According to the norms, when a ship enters a port or departs from a port, the crew members need to take medical clearance from the doctor of Port Health Organisation. This has been made mandatory especially after the Covid outbreak. The doctor needs to certify that the crew member is free from Covid, fit to travel and has no health issues.

Sources said the accused doctor was charging Rs 1,500 to give medical clearance for each member of the crew and this had caused resentment among the crew members. The shipping company later approached the CBI which laid a trap and arrested the doctor.

The Port Health Organisation comes under Union ministry of health and family welfare and is a designated statutory organisation for dealing with matters of public health in relation to the port activities at the point of entry.

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