Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan helped stall the transfer of a doctor accused of involvement in a medical procurement scam, in September 2014.
This was after State Health Minister Narottam Mishra had issued written orders for transferring the doctor in question, S.N. Iyengar, now Dean of G.R. Medical College in Gwalior.
The Vyapam scam had exposed the nexus between the medical fraternity and the political class in the State.
A file noting from the State Medical Education Department, dated September 23, 2014, signed by Principal Secretary Ajay Tirkey, which The Hindu has accessed, observes that the transfer of Dr. Iyengar was stalled after a phone call was received from the Chief Minister’s Office on September 20, 2014, recommending that the order be scrapped.
In August this year, The Hindu report “Govt. audit exposes irregularities in Madhya Pradesh hospitals” said the Economic Offences Wing in Gwalior had launched an inquiry against Dr. Iyengar and another medical superintendent after Rs. 1.5 crore of excess payment for purchase of medical equipment and orthopaedic implants was found in an audit by the Office of the Accountant-General in Gwalior. More documents that emerged during this investigation, accessed by The Hindu , show that the tender process approved by the Dean, G.R. Medical College, paid a higher rate of Rs. 385 per vial for making payment to the medical vendor who had originally quoted Rs. 211.9 per vial of the injectable antibiotic meropenem.
The documents further show that bone cement, which medical suppliers confirmed to The Hindu costs approximately Rs. 2,000 for a standard pack on the market, was purchased by the hospital at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per pack as per documents.
The Office of the Accountant-General, in a confidential letter to the Directorate of Medical Education dated December 12, 2014, stated that the higher payments led to excess payment of Rs. 1,14, 59,220 to suppliers of the drug.
The period of this government audit that exposed the malpractices, conducted between 2011 and 2014, coincides with the period during which the attempt to transfer Dr. Iyengar, was stalled by the Chief Minister’s Office.
The Madhya Pradesh Health Minister became defensive when approached for comment.
Mr. Narottam Mishra told The Hindu over the phone, “We recommend transfers and cancel them too. It is our right to do so,” when asked to respond why Dr. Iyengar’s transfer order, based on his own recommendation, had later been called off. He also said if the medical officials were found guilty in the course of inquiry, action would be taken against them.
Vyapam whistleblower Ashish Chaturvedi alleged that Below Poverty Line patients were being charged in excess from their State-issued health cards, under the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Upchar Yojna and other such schemes for cashless hospitalisation for the poor, under the pretext of charging rent for the instrument being used for orthopaedic surgeries.