Orissa CM Patnaik caught in health project scam

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 19: Orissa unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) today demanded a CBI probe into the World Bank-funded health project scam and dismissal of the minister allegedly involved in siphoning the funds for the implementation of the project.

Addressing a press conference here, NCP Leaders Amar Satpathy, Anadi Sahu and Kulamani Deo urged that criminal cases be instituted against all those involved in the scam, including the minister, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, criminal misconduct and conspiracy for taking bribe. They alleged that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was trying to shield the minister by announcing a three-member fact-finding team, headed by state Chief Secretary, to investigate and submit a report within three months.

Mr Satpathy said the report of the World Bank, alleging a minister of receiving money for the implementation of the Orissa Health System Development Project (OHSDP), had exposed the Naveen Patnaik government.

He said the Rs 415 crore project was launched in the state during September 1998 but the major expenditure relating to building and purchase of equipment was made during 2001-05, when present state Finance Minister P C Ghadei was the Health Minister.

The Detailed Implementation Review (DIR) on the OHSDP, prepared by the World Bank, alleged that the equipment purchased under the scheme was sub-standard and a minister was paid 20 per cent to clear the bill of the cost of equipment costing Rs 25 lakh.

This was only a tip of the iceberg in the scam, he alleged.

Mr Satpathy said the CAG during 2005 also pointed that cracks were developed in 15 project hospitals due to sub-standard and poor quality of work but the government did not pay any heed to the report. Neither any inquiry was ordered into the scam nor any action was initiated by the government on the findings of the CAG report, the NCP leader said.

Former Parliament member Anadi Sahu said an FIR should be lodged by the State Health Secretary on the basis of the DIR submitted by the World Bank which clearly revealed the scam as a cognizable offence.

He said though the report had been published in a section of the news papers, the state government is yet to refute the allegation of kick back.

Former Inspector General of Police Kulamani Deo demanded that Finance Minister P C Ghadei, who was then holding the Health portfolio, be immediately removed from the post and criminal case instituted against him and other officials involved in the scam.

The NCP leaders said the party would take the issue to the street and launch a statewide movement if no action was taken against all those culprits, who have denigrated the image of Orissa at the international sphere for the financial irregularities and fraud.


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