VIJAYAWADA: The State government is likely to order an in-depth probe into the multi-crore ESI scam, with more irregularities being exposed day by day. The Vigilance and Enforcement department, which probed the irregularities in ESI hospitals and dispensaries across the State in the procurement of drugs, surgical equipment and medical services, among other things, uncovered a deep-rooted scam involving several hundreds of crores.
Like in Telangana, where the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) took up the investigation when the ESI scam broke out in that State, the Andhra Pradesh government too is likely to order the ACB to take up the case. Besides the directors and staff of the ESIC, two former ministers were reportedly involved in the scam.
Vigilance and Enforcement SP (Tirupati) N Venkata Reddy said it was not just two former ministers (K Atachannaidu and Pithani Satyanarayana), but also a son of a former minister who was involved. “We probed the case for three months and submitted a detailed report to the State government. We have recommended criminal cases against those involved irrespective of their status and stature,” he said.
ESI scam: Several guidelines violated
Venkata Reddy maintained that several guidelines were violated in the procurement of drugs and equipment and in several cases contracts were given on nominations basis without calling for open tenders. “The role of the relatives of the staff could not be ruled out as a company owned by a family member of the pharmacist of ESI was awarded a contract worth `3 crore. During the probe, it was found that several unnecessary pieces of equipment, such as knee caps, were among the lab equipment procured,” he explained.
Meanwhile, senior TDP leader and former minister for Labour Pithani Satyanarayana strongly condemned the allegations that he was involved in the scam. He asserted that his name was not mentioned in the probe report. “The minister who is accusing me does not even know that the vigilance report was first sent to the Chief Minister’s Office and from there, to the minister’s office. In fact, I had ordered a vigilance probe against Ravi Kumar and Ramesh Kumar on Feb 1, 2018, following reports of irregularities,” he said. He further asked for the earlier vigilance reports to be produced.
More irregularities tumbling out during Vigilance probe
`44,000 – sodium and potassium electrolytes were procured with an abnormal increase in cost
Bills were paid even before goods were delivered
Bills were signed off by directors though there were no certificates for them
`40 crore spent on products which were to expire in three months