By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 16 Jun: The issue of fake Corona tests in Haridwar during the Mahakumbh Snans has now snowballed into a major issue with the potential to turn into a major embarrassment for the state government as due diligence was not done while authorising certain laboratories to conduct RTPCR as well as Rapid Antigen tests. Every single day, at least fifty thousand tests had to be carried out during the Kumbh of people coming to Haridwar as per the orders of the Uttarakhand High Court. A large number estimated to be at least one lakh tests conducted by nine laboratories during the Kumbh have come under the scanner as large scale irregularities have surfaced regarding their authenticity.
The state government has ordered inquiries at several levels into the alleged scam. But the issue keeps on getting bigger by the day with the chief opposition party, the Congress, levelling major allegations against the state government. The issue has become so big that some news portals are now claiming that the Kumbh was indeed a super spreader of Corona. Of course, the secondary data on the number of infected people or number of deaths does not support this claim, which is presently looking hyped up. The fact, however, can’t be denied that data was fudged in a large scale during the Kumbh.
As the issue turns bigger, the government has declared that a detailed inquiry would be set up into the alleged data fudging by the laboratories. The government has stated that all the laboratories that were authorised by the Uttarakhand government to conduct the Covid tests during the Kumbh period would now be examined by the government and would be co-related with the Corona test kits supplied by the government. Sources said that a preliminary inquiry has revealed data fudging by certain laboratories. Many people from outside the state, including Punjab, had received messages of Corona tests conducted in Haridwar on their mobile phones though they had not visited the Kumbh at all. Similarly, more than 500 tests were recorded to have been conducted on a single mobile phone number. It was noticed that the majority of the tests were conducted of people from Rajasthan.
Another indication of data fudging is the fact that, while the rest of the state and, in particular, cities like Dehradun had a positivity rate of over 14 percent during the time of Kumbh, the positivity rate in Haridwar remained less than 3 percent even during the peak time. More than a million tests were conducted during that time in Haridwar. Data under the scanner is in respect of roughly one lakh tests.
On the specific direction of Secretary, Health, Amit Negi, Haridwar District Magistrate C Ravishankar has started investigations. He has formed a committee headed by Chief Development Officer Sarabh Geharwar and comprising District Development Officer Pushpendra Chauhan and Chief Treasury Officer Neetu. In addition to that, the Kumbh Mela Administration has also launched its own internal inquiry into the scam. A four member inquiry committee has been formed by Kumbh Mela Officer (Health) Arjun Singh Senger to investigate all the laboratories authorised in the Kumbh Mela region. Dr NK Tyagi has been made the nodal officer of the Committee while others members are ACMO Dr HD Shakya, Subhash Chand and Pharmacist Pradeep Pandey.
By Arun Pratap Singh