Corruption in World Bank aided health projects in India

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (UNI) The World Bank today said it has discovered serious cases of fraud and corruption in the five health sector projects dealing with eradication of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS control schemes, even as the Indian government avowed that it will not spare the guilty.

The probe into these projects has revealed "unacceptable indicators of fraud and corruption," World Bank President Robert B Zoellick said in a statement.

These projects include 114 million dollar Malaria Control Project, 82.1 million dollar Orissa Health Systems Development Project, 54 million dollar Food and Drug Capacity Building Project, 193.7 million dollar Second National HIV/AIDS Control Project and 124.8 million dollar Tuberculosis Control Project.

A 'Detailed Implementation Review' launched by the World Bank in 2006 and supported by the Indian government found serious incidents of fraud and corruption in these projects. The projects began implementation between 1997 and 2003, financed by the Indian government and other donors. Four projects have been completed, one is ongoing but is not disbursing and will be reviewed to incorporate the findnings of the DIR.

A Statement by the Bank said the Indian government and the multilateral funding institution have "joined forces" to fight fraud and corruption and systematic deficiencies in India's health sector, announcing immediate steps to "investigate indicators of wrongdoing and implement further safeguards." The Indian government has announced its intention to re-examine ongoing and future projects to ensure they incorporate the lessons from the DIR.

What prompted the fresh inquiry was an investigation in 2005, which found cases of corruption in 'Reproductive and Child Health project.' This prompted the multi-lateral agency to withhold aid for the project for sometime. Subsequent to the probe, two pharma companies were also debarred by the Bank.

Zoellick pledged he and the government would get to the bottom of corruption prevelant in these projects.

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