MP minister quits after raids in ‘fake drug purchase’

Ajay Vishnoi was acting chief of the Bhopal Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Department when resigning over the following corruption scandal…
Milind Ghatwai, Indian Express, June 3, 2008
Scandal Health Commissioner also resigns after allegations of official-builder-supplier nexus
BHOPAL, JUNE 2: Madhya Pradesh Health Minister Ajay Vishnoi, whose department has come under a cloud with the I-T department carrying out searches on premises owned by health officials twice in less than one year, resigned on Monday amid reports that he was asked to quit by the party high command.
After raids at his brother Abhay Vishnoi’s premises on Friday, the Opposition clamoured for his head but the minister put up a brave front saying the operation was undertaken to defame him.
The minister’s younger brother was brought on deputation from the energy department to Laghu Udyog Nigam, a government body entrusted with purchasing drugs and medical equipment. The minister and his brother have a joint property in Jabalpur, which was raided last week.
Vishnoi claimed he was innocent but was tendering his resignation because the allegations were “bringing a bad name” to the government. He claimed the party and the chief minister backed him but he was resigning on “moral grounds.”
The minister was on the Opposition’s target both for alleged irregularities in purchase of drugs and medicines and for proliferation of medical and nursery institutions during his tenure.
After Friday’s raids, IAS officer Rajesh Rajora had also resigned on moral grounds. The 1990 batch officer was Health Commissioner when the scandal in the health department came to light. He was made Home Secretary a few months ago.
IT officials have alleged a link between health officials, builders and drug suppliers indicating that fake purchases were made and the money used to invest in properties. According to documents seized in Jabalpur, crores were paid to the government officials as commission. Irregularities in the operation of mobile dispensaries that take health services to rural areas have come to light.
Friday’s raids came after last year’s search and seizure operation by the I-T department on the premises of then director (health services) Dr Yogiraj Sharma, who was compulsorily retired by the government in the wake of reports that he had amassed properties.
Director (investigations) A K Singh on Monday confirmed that properties and valuables owned by Sharma and his accomplices ran into more than Rs 100 crore. Sharma alone owned more than 20 properties and accounted for a major share of the seizure.
Cash was stashed everywhere in his palatial houses in Bhopal’s Shaktinagar locality, officials said. His accomplices included two drug manufacturers and a builder.
Among those raided last week included a retired IAS officer, newspaper owner-cum-builder, the Bhopal resident editor of his newspaper, the journalist’s Indore-based brother, health department officials and builders. In all, 56 premises were covered under the search and survey operation that lasted for two days.
Those covered in the latest round have surrendered details of properties worth Rs 87.12 lakh. Cash and jewellery worth Rs 85.48 lakh was also seized during the searches. IT sources said 27 lockers, including five in Jabalpur, ten in Indore and five in Bhopal, were yet to be opened. Though not much investment was made in Rajora’s name, authorities said lot of property was purchased in his father and in-laws’ names.
Ministers under cloud
• Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is accused of favouring a business conglomerate and getting paid in kind. Dumper trucks purchased in his wife’s name were rented out to the company. The vehicles have since been sold to the company but an FIR has been lodged against Chouhan on the direction of a local court.
•PWD and IT Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya is facing a host of corruption charges. A CAG report had stated that scores of crores were fraudulently spent on works executed for Simhast Mela in 2004. Vijayvargiya was in-charge of Simhast mela. Another scam related to him took place when he was Indore mayor. Pension worth crores was ‘distributed’ among beneficiaries who did not exist.
•Revenue Minister Kamal Patel is under shadow for amassing properties running into tens of crores of rupees in and around Harda district.
• PHE minister Chaudhary Chandrabhan Singh has been accused of misusing his position to purchase land and other properties in and around Chhindwara, his constituency.
•Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Gopal Bhargava equated those seeking reservation with ‘beggars.’

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