MP: Scam In The Purchase Of Health Equipments, Case Registered Against CMHO And Others

Bhopal:  A significant scandal has come to light in the health department of Anuppur district, Madhya Pradesh, where equipment essential for treatment was purchased at exorbitantly inflated rates. Following an investigation into the matter, the Economic Offenses Investigation Bureau (EOW) of the state has filed a case.

 

The probe into equipment procurement in Anuppur between 2019 and 2022 revealed shocking discrepancies. The EOW conducted an in-depth inquiry, leading to the registration of a case against the former District Chief Medical Officer (CMHO), ADM, and five operators from three firms responsible for supplying the equipment.

 

According to the EOW’s investigation report, equipment intended for treating patients in Anuppur District Hospital and other health institutions was procured using a budget exceeding Rs 7 crore 11 lakh allocated under the Prime Minister Mineral Sector Welfare Scheme. The purchases were facilitated by Dr. BD Sonwani, the then CMHO, Dr. SR Paraste, the Civil Surgeon, and ADM BD Singh.

 

Orders for the procurement of 778 types of equipment were placed with three firms associated with a family residing in Gautam Nagar, Bhopal. Additionally, equipment was purchased from a firm in Katni.

 

However, these acquisitions bypassed the approved rates set by the Madhya Pradesh Public Health Corporation in Bhopal, resulting in purchases at rates 61 times higher than the standard.

 

The implicated firms have profited by over Rs 33 lakh in this equipment procurement scam. Shockingly, investigations revealed instances where jumbo-sized oxygen cylinders, priced at Rs 10,999 in Anuppur, were bought for Rs 16,900, and RF kits worth Rs 68 were purchased for Rs 4,156. Furthermore, 14 pieces of equipment were procured by the Madhya Pradesh Public Health Corporation at significantly inflated prices.

 

Following the investigation, the EOW has leveled accusations against the officers and firm operators involved in the scandal.

 

In November 2019, the Anuppur District Health Department issued purchase tenders, attracting bids from five individuals. However, only one tender was opened, leading to significant irregularities in the procurement process. This tender, valued at approximately Rs 7 crore, resulted in payments amounting to Rs 5 crore being made.

 

Following suspicions raised about the procurement process, a complaint was lodged with the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) in Bhopal in December 2020. Subsequently, a zero case was registered with the EOW in Rewa in March 2021, authorizing an investigation into the matter.

 

The EOW investigation team Rewa, led by Ashish Mishra, Sub Inspector, and Ghanshyam Tripathi, Head Constable, visited the Anuppur Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) office on August 3, 2023. During their visit, the team, in the presence of the then CMHO Dr. BD Sonwani, seized documents related to the fraudulent activities.

 

After a thorough four-year investigation, the Bhopal EOW identified 13 individuals as culprits in the case and formally charged them on March 27, 2024.

 

The investigation revealed that Dr. BD Sonwani, as the CMHO, played a pivotal role in manipulating the tendering process. He conspired to exclude eligible drug supply firms from participating in the tendering process by manipulating data tables of offered rates. Furthermore, firms offering lower rates were unfairly excluded to favor those with higher rates.

 

The EOW investigation also uncovered that equipment was purchased from M/s Cinco India Limited, Indore, M/s Science House Medical Pvt. Ltd., and Anusels Corporation Pvt. Ltd., all of which are operated by individuals residing in Gautam Nagar, Bhopal. Interestingly, the directors of these firms share familial relationships, indicating potential collusion.

 

As a result of the investigation, arrests were made, including Dr. BD Sonwani, Ramkhelavan Patel (the then storekeeper), Mahesh Kumar Dixit (the then accountant of the CMHO office), BD Singh (the then ADM of Anuppur), Dr. SR Paraste (the then civil surgeon), Dr. BP Shukla (medical expert and BMO), Dr. DK Kori (anesthesiologist), and Dr. Mohan Singh (a member of the purchasing committee).

 

Additionally, Sunaina Tiwari and Jitendra Tiwari, directors of M/s Science House Medicals Private Limited, along with Anuja, Shailendra Tiwari, and Mahesh Babu Sharma, are among those charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

 

The late BD Singh, the then ADM of Anuppur, also named in the FIR, was the chairman of the purchasing committee.

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