Mumbai, April 10: The opposition, led by Congress and NCP, would raise the “Rs 297-crore medicine purchase scam” in the Maharashtra Legislative Council this week, opposition leader Dhananjay Munde said here today. The NCP leader alleged that he had raised this issue during the monsoon session of the state legislature last year but the government had “brushed the scam under carpet”.

“The medicine purchase scam in the department of Public Health is much bigger than what is being quoted in the media. I would expose the scam fully with proof on the floor of the Legislative Council,” Munde, the NCP MLC, said in a statement here.

Referring to Health Minister Deepak Sawant’s statement that purchase of medicines is done at the level of Director, Health Services, Munde said, “If the purchases are done at the level of Director, Health Services, and at the lower level then let the secretary run the department, why have the minister?”

Munde, nephew of late BJP stalwart Gopinath Munde, alleged that the government is scared to order a probe into the “scam”. “If government so readily agrees to constitute a probe headed by a retired judge against a person like Padmashri Tatyarao Lahane…, then why is the government is scared to probe this scam?” he said.  Read Also: (Kollam Temple Fire Tragedy: Is Right to Freedom of Religion more important than Right to Life?)

He was referring to the resident doctors at JJ Hospital here calling off their six-day strike on Friday for transfer of hospital dean Lahane and ophthalmology department head Ragini Parekh.

The strike was reportedly called off on Friday after the government agreed to form a committee headed by a retired High Court judge and two doctors from the Medical Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) to look into the complaints of the resident doctors. Stating that he had raised the “medicine purchase scam” in last monsoon session, Munde said, “However, like the Chikki scam, fire fighting equipment purchase scam, pulses scam or scam in purchase of great leaders, the government brushed this scam too under the carpet,” he said.

Sawant had already clarified that all powers to purchase medicines rest with Central Purchase Committee and the issue of tenders does not come to him. The minister had said that “if anything wrong has happened (in medicine purchase) then provide me the details, I will take action”. The alleged scam relates to haphazard purchase of medicines under the National Urban Health Mission in which allocation is given by the central government.

State Public Health Department had invited tenders for purchase of 549 medicines and for that allocation of Rs 297 crore was made. The purchase was made for 26 municipal corporations, 65 municipal councils and four cantonment boards. The advertisements for purchase of these medicines were issued in newspapers in far away Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim and Assam. In order to ensure that the allocation does not get lapsed before March 31, mass orders were issued to suppliers who claimed that they got the orders much after April 15 last year.