25 feb 2012
UP health scam: 4 new cases registered; medical supplier close to Kushwaha raided
Guddu Khan, a medical supplier close to Babu Singh Kushwaha, who as Minister for Family Welfare headed a department riddled with corruption and crime has also been raided. Searches were conducted at the medicine market in Lucknow as the CBI cracked down on key medical suppliers in the city.
The scam that saw corrupt bureaucrats and politicians siphoning away crores meant to improve health facilities was birthed in the Family Welfare department in Mayawati’s government, which handled the huge funds sent by the Centre for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) Scheme. Mr Kushwaha was sacked by Mayawati in April last year after the murders of three chief medical officers forced the government to acknowledge the deep-rooted graft in his department.
Two senior doctors affiliated to the department were murdered; another was found dead in a Lucknow jail in mysterious circumstances. In January, an officer with the UP Jal Nigam, committed suicide allegedly because he was being investigated for a role in the scam.
Mr Kushwaha defected to the BJP in early January, with sharp repercussions. The Congress accused the BJP of providing a “dust-bin” for Mayawati’s corrupt ministers. Leaders like Maneka Gandhi and Uma Bharti, the former publicly and the latter privately, took on their party leadership for accepting a man being investigated for improbity. The BJP then said that Mr Kushwaha would not be used in the party’s campaign in UP. Mr Kushwaha then wrote a letter to the BJP asking that his membership be suspended till he is cleared of the charges against him.
In 2005, the UPA government launched the National Rural Health Mission Scheme. Huge amounts of money were to be sent to states to provide accessible and affordable health care to the poorest families in remote regions. The government’s auditor has said that more than half of 8500 crores sent by the Centre to UP (from 2005 to 2011) have been embezzled.
The Allahabad High Court ordered the CBI to investigate the trio of deaths and the swindle entrenched in their department.
In an interview to NDTV, the Chief Minister described the investigation into the swindle, and its findings, as a political conspiracy designed to undermine her ahead of the state’s elections. She said that the centre released funds for the health scheme in installments, and that the funding was monitored by the central government. Therefore, she argues, if there were irregularities and instances of corruption, why didn’t the central government object earlier and pause the funds?