NCP accuses Orissa CM of concealing health scam

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 24: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Orissa unit convenor Bijaya Mihapatra today alleged that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had deliberately concealed the scam in the World Bank funded health projects in the state.

The CAG, Mr Mohapatra said, had reported the scam in 2005 to the state government in a letter and the Chief Minister was aware of it but preferred to remain silent over the issue till it was reported by the World Bank recently.

Talking to mediapersons here, the NCP leader said the World Bank had exposed the Naveen Patnaik government and demanded that Mr Patnaik along with the then Health Minister and Secretaries of the Health Department, be arrested initiating criminal proceedings against them.

The World Bank, in its Detail Implement Review (DIR) report, has stated large scale anomalies in the Rs 415 crore health projects executed in the state under the state Health System Development Project and Reproductive Health Scheme during 2000-06.

The report claimed that one of the Health Minister was paid Rs five lakh to clear the bill of one equipment purchased under the health scheme.

As the issued report has snowballed into a major controversy and caused a political turmoil, the Chief Minister, who ordered for an inquiry by a three-member committee headed by Chief Secretary A K Tripathy, later announced a vigilance probe into the scam.

Mr Mohapatra said this was the first such scam in the state involving the World Bank fund and had tarnished Orissa's image in the international sphere. He alleged that prior to the World Bank report, the CAG report was placed before the Assembly but the Chief Minister did not take any step, which indicated that Mr Patnaik was very much involved in the scam.

The NCP leader said the Chief Minister's decision to order for a departmental and then a vigilance inquiry clearly exposed the weakness of his government.

''By ordering vigilance inquiry, the Chief Minister wanted to befool the people,'' he said, adding that how could the vigilance inquire the scam involving the Chief Minister, health Minister and other senior officials of the state.

Mr Mohapatra, the Project Director of health projects, who was also allegedly involved in the scam got extension of his service by one year from none else than the Chief Minister.

He said the Centre had also earlier intimated the state government that the it would lose Rs 27 crore on the ground of poor performance of the two schemes funded by the World Bank.

The Centre, he said, had curtailed Rs 110 crore from the project fund in February 2005 due to poor execution of work by the state government.


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