The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh, searched the residence of the former Health Minister, Anant Kumar alias Antu Mishra, on Saturday. The simultaneous raids were conducted on Mr. Mishra's residences at Gomtinagar in Lucknow and Kidwainagar in Kanpur.
CBI sources said the raids were in connection with the alleged irregularities in the implementation of NRHM schemes. The investigating agency suspects that the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) appointed in the districts acted as conduits for allegedly siphoning off huge funds meant for the implementation of NRHM programmes in the State from 2009 to 2011 when Mr. Mishra was the Health Minister and Babu Singh Kushwaha, the Family Welfare Minister. Mr. Kushwaha is now in jail.
The raids on the former Health Minister's residence came in the wake of a fresh FIR lodged by the CBI in Delhi against Mr. Mishra, Mr. Kushwaha, the former Principal Secretary, Health, Pradeep Shukla, the then Director-General of Family Welfare, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Ram Prasad Jaiswal, BSP MLC Ramu Dwivedi and four private persons and medical suppliers. The case has been filed under Sections 120 B, 420,468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 7,8,10,13 (2) read with 13 (1) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
CBI sources said the Ministers conspired with the suppliers of medicines and surgical items and other private persons to misappropriate funds under the NRHM.
CBI sleuths descended on Mr. Mishra's plush Gomtinagar residence at around 6 a.m. and locked the gates from inside. Several incriminating documents are understood to have been seized. The raids in Lucknow and Kanpur continued for about eight hours.
This is the first time that the CBI has searched the residential premises of the former Health Minister in the Mayawati government. Twice earlier, the CBI interrogated Mr. Mishra in connection with the murder of CMO, Family Welfare, V.K. Arya, who was shot dead near his Vikas Nagar residence in Lucknow on October 27, 2010.
Dr. Arya's murder and that of his successor in the Family Welfare Department, B.P. Singh, on April 2, 2011 in Gomtinagar were allegedly related to the multi-crore scandal.
The subsequent death in mysterious circumstances of Deputy CMO, Family Welfare, Y.S. Sachan in the Lucknow district jail in June 2011 was also allegedly related to the sharing of booty from the money meant for implementing the NRHM schemes and procurement of drugs and equipment.
The Health and Family Welfare Department was held by the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, till June 2009. Subsequently, both the departments were bifurcated, with Mr. Mishra being made the Health Minister and Mr. Kushwaha given the Family Welfare portfolio. Along with this change, a new post of CMO, Family Welfare, was created. Prior to this, funds for the implementation of various health-related programmes were managed by the CMO, Health.
In fact, the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India on the NRHM for the year ended March 31, 2011 tabled in the Vidhan Sabha recently mentioned that the monitoring and evaluation mechanism of the mission was virtually non-existent in Uttar Pradesh. The internal audit mechanism was not operational. In many districts, the district health missions were not formed and the district-level vigilance and monitoring committees were not formed.