Mumbai

NMMC forms team to probe alleged COVID-19 testing scam

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has formed an investigation team to probe allegations of a scam in COVID-19 testing centres. Social activists have claimed that relatives of positive patients are listed as having tested negative on the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) website even though they have not undergone tests.

They claimed that at least 10,000 such fake reports from Navi Mumbai have been published on the website and a similar pattern has been observed in Thane and Palghar districts.

Ankush Kadam, core committee member, Maratha Kranti Morcha, said the NMMC’s testing centres have been releasing negative reports of the kin of positive patients without testing them for COVID-19.

Mr. Kadam said, “After we learnt that the names of people who had not been tested for the infection were published on the website, some fellow activists got themselves tested at these centres. When they were asked to provide the details of their family members, they purposely gave the details of their relatives who had passed away a few years ago. After some days, we found that their names had been published on the ICMR website as people who had tested ‘negative’ for the virus.”

Mr. Kadam said crores of rupees allocated for purchasing testing kits were being embezzled through this practice of publishing fake reports. “The State government pays the money incurred for the tests to the civic corporations, but 75% of these tests have not been conducted,” he said.

Pravin Darekar, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, met Navi Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Abhijit Bangar on Thursday evening and demanded a probe into these allegations. The delegation included former MP Sanjeev Naik, MLA Ramesh Patil, and several office-bearers of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“I have demanded an investigation into these claims and we hope that the NMMC Commissioner will ensure that there is a fair investigation,” Mr. Darekar said.

Mr. Bangar said the investigation team would verify the claims by not only making phone calls but also visiting the homes of those who have tested positive for COVID-19. “If any discrepancy is found, we will take strict action against the people responsible,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 7:49:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/nmmc-forms-team-to-probe-alleged-covid-19-testing-scam/article33196165.ece

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