Alleging involvement of a big JD(U) leader and senior government officials in the multi-crore medicine scam in Bihar, BJP leader Sushil Modi on Tuesday accused the state government of trying to shield people involved in the scam and demanded CBI inquiry into the matter.
"The scam is worth over Rs 100 crore. The way medicines and equipment were bought at higher prices despite objections from various government institutions, indicates the involvement of a very senior JD (U) leader and a senior government official," Modi told reporters after holding a 'Janata Darbar' to listen to public grievances.
"The way the Bihar government has opposed CBI inquiry into the scam shows that it is trying to shield the persons involved. We demand CBI probe into the scam," Modi added.
The Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council did not name the "big JD(U) leader" but said the scam happened while Nitish Kumar was the Chief Minister and was also holding the charge of the Health Minister after BJP walked out of the government in June last year. He said the substandard medicines, as well as, equipment were bought at much higher prices with funds provided by the central government under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scheme.
"A Joint Secretary rank officer who was private secretary to Nitish Kumar during his first term as the CM, was the chairman of the medicine purchase committee," the BJP leader, who was Deputy Chief Minister in NDA rule, said.
The scam had surfaced during the monsoon session of Bihar legislature in July this year after two deaths were reported from different parts of the state due to substandard medicines stocked in government hospitals. Modi said the medicines and medical equipment were purchased by Bihar Medical Services Infrastructure Corporation (BMSIC) during the financial year 2013-14 at prices that were 50 to 800 per cent more than rates for similar medicines and equipment contracted by State Health Society (SHS).
He cited a health department letter to BMSIC pointing out rates of 31 medicines being more than the rates contracted by the SHS. He added that six companies from which the medicines and equipment were bought were blacklisted in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Rajasthan.
Modi also referred to another letter by the Health Secretary to BMSIC Managing Director in which the Corporation is asked not to buy equipment 'Safety IV Cannulae' at Rs 58 per piece when its rate was quoted Rs 31.20 per piece to SHS.
The BJP leader said the state government has asked Deepak Kumar, Principal Secretary of Health Department to probe the scam, but he would not be able to inquire into actions of his own department's officials.